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The Cambridge Archaeological and Ethnological 
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of William RiDGEWAY, Sc.D., E.B.A., Disney Professor 
of Archaeology, A. C H addon, Sc.D., E.R.S., University 
Lecturer in Ethnology, M. R. James, Litt.D., F.B.A., 
Provost of King's College, and C. Waldstein, Litt.D., 
Slade Professor of Fine Art. 























C. S. MYERS, M.D., D.Sc. 




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THE Veddas have been regarded as one of the most primitive 
of existing races, and it has long been felt desirable that 
their social life and religious ideas should be investigated as 
thoroughly as possible. The welcome opportunity of conducting 
this research was afforded me on the initiative of Dr A.C. Haddon, 
who suggested to the Honourable Mr John Ferguson and Dr 
Arthur Willey that it was desirable that the Ceylon Government 
should continue its enlightened policy of studying the anthro- 
pology, archaeology and history of Ceylon and its peoples. This 
proposal received the warmest support of the Governor, Sir Henry 
Blake, G.C.M.G., and his successor the present Governor, His 
Excellency Sir Henry E. McCallum, G.C.M.G., A.D.C., of the 
Colonial Secretary and of the other members of the Legislative 
Council who made a liberal grant covering the expenses of the 
expedition in the field. 

Not only was the work urgently needed on account of its 
scientific importance, but it was known that the Veddas were a 
numerically small people verging on extinction, and so affected 
by contact with Tamils and Sinhalese that if they were not 
studied promptly there was every possibility that it would soon 
be too late to study them at all ; indeed, with all my efforts 
I was able to meet only four families, and hear of two more, who 
I believe had never practised cultivation. Pure-blooded Veddas 
are not quite so rare as this statement implies. The Danigala 
community, the best known " wild " Veddas of Ceylon, are still 
reasonably pure-blooded, though they have adopted many 
Sinhalese habits, including cultivation, and have assumed the 
role of professional primitive man. They are commonly fetched 
to be interviewed by travellers at the nearest rest house, where 
they appear clad only in the traditional scanty Vedda garment, 
whereas, when not on show, they dress very much as the neigh- 
bouring peasant Sinhalese. 


In spite of the decay into which the Vedda social fabric has 
fallen, I believe that the expedition may be considered to have 
achieved a considerable measure of success, since it has brought 
to lisjht a number of facts hitherto unknown. This result is 
largely due to my wife, for I feel convinced that the measure of 
success attained in gaining the confidence of these shy and 
extremely jealous people was entirely due to her presence and 
assistance. Not only would it have been impossible otherwise 
to obtain certain important results in special departments, as for 
instance the phonograph records of lullabies, but I should never 
have had the opportunity of studying Vedda family life with 
the degree of intimacy which her presence made possible. It 
must not however be thought that the assistance she rendered 
was of the somewhat passive kind which the presence of any 
sympathetic woman would have given. Indeed, the opposite 
was the case, for, with a single exception, the ceremonial dances 
described in Chapter ix were recorded by Mrs Seligmann, while 
I devoted the whole of my attention to obtaining a reasonably 
complete series of photographs. So fully did she share in the 
work in this and many other ways that when working up our 
results I found that my original idea of a volume containing a 
number of jointly written chapters by no means did justice to 
her work, and her name therefore appears as that of joint author 
of this book. 

With regard to the dances photographed, those witnessed at 
Sitala VVanniya and Bandaraduwa were performed in the depth 
of the jungle under circumstances which necessitated under- 
exposure in spite of the use of the most rapid plates. Hence 
a number of the photographs reproduced in Chapter ix have 
been more or less "faked," the detail being painted in on bromide 
prints and fresh negatives prepared. Probably no one will have 
any difficulty in recognising the photographs which have been 
treated in this way, but in order to avoid any possibility of a 
mistake those plates which have been touched up are indicated 
by an asterisk. 

The translations and transliterations of the charms in 
Chapter viii and the invocations in Chapter x have been 
prepared by Mr Henry Parker, late Assistant Director of the 
Ceylon Irrigation Department, who has also read through and 


criticised Chapters I, VI, VII, Vlil, XIV and XV. But the assistance 
he has thus rendered is by no means the full measure of our 
indebtedness, for there is scarcely a chapter in which we have not 
availed ourselves of his great knowledge of Ceylon, and although 
we have endeavoured to acknowledge in the text the help he 
has given us, we feel we have scarcely done justice to the benefit 
we have derived from discussing many points with him. Dr 
C. S. Myers is responsible for the chapter on Music ; to him we 
are greatly indebted for undertaking this work in spite of the 
many other calls on his time. 

We owe to Mr A. Mendis Gunasekara, Mudaliar, the trans- 
literation and translation of the songs given in Chapter xiv, 
Mr Gunasekara has also worked over the vocabularies we took 
in the field and has added greatly to the value of these by the 
derivations which he has been able to suggest for many of the 
words, and we desire to express our appreciation of the energy 
and knowledge he has brought to the task. 

It is a pleasure and a duty to refer to the assistance rendered 
by friends and officials in Ceylon. In the first place our thanks 
are due to the Colonial Secretary, Sir Hugh Clifford, K.C.M.G., 
and the Hon. Mr John Ferguson, C.M.G., for constant advice and 
help. We received the greatest assistance from Dr Arthur Willey, 
F.R.S., until recently the Director of the Colombo Museum, who 
not only placed his own knowledge and experience at our dis- 
posal, but encouraged us to make the freest use of his department. 
He thus saved us much trouble and a considerable expenditure 
of time, and to him we owe a debt of gratitude which we cannot 
adequately express. Our obligation to the officers of the Survey 
Department is very great, and we desire to record the assistance 
rendered by the Surveyor General, Mr P. Warren, C.M.G., the 
Assistant Surveyor General, Mr R. S. Templeton, and Mr W. C. S. 
Ingles. Encouraged by his success with plates exposed in 
Colombo Mr Ingles took an immense amount of trouble with, a 
number of colour-plates which had been exposed in the jungle, 
but the results though interesting were not such as to be of 
scientific value. Mr Frederick Lewis, F.L.S., of the Land Settle- 
ment Department, who has travelled much in the Vedda country, 
also rendered valuable assistance, and we have made free use of 
his paper {Journ. Roy. As. Soc. C.B. 1902) giving the vernacular 



names of many trees and flowering plants of economic importance 
to the Veddas. We are also under obligation to Mr J. Harvvard, 
Director of Public Instruction, and we must not omit to mention 
the attention shown to us by Mr G. A. Joseph, Hon. Secretary 
of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. 

While in the field we received help from so many friends 
from Government officers to peasant Sinhalese that it is im- 
possible to mention all by name. We must specially thank 
Mr H. White and Mr H. R. Freeman, the Government Agents 
of Uva and the Eastern Province respectively, not only for much 
kindly advice but for putting at our disposal such adequate 
interpreters as Mr W. R. Bibile, Ratemahatmaya, the Muhan- 
diram Kumarakulasinghe and Mr D. C. de Silva, Kachcheri 
Interpreter. We are greatly indebted to these gentlemen as we 
also are to Mr Samuel Perera for his assistance in locating a 
group of Veddas, for whom we had been searching for some 
weeks, and to Mr C. Herft, District Engineer, Batticaloa, who 
twice supplied us with coolies when we were in serious difficulty 
for transport. Our thanks are also due to Mr G. T. Bradley of 
the Irrigation Department and Mr G. D. Templer of the Forest 
Department as well as to Mr G. W. Woodhouse, District Judge, 
who spent a whole day of his holidays interpreting for us. 

We received much help from Mr G. P. Greene, General 
Manager of the Ceylon Government Railways, and from Mr C. 
Donald of Bandaravvela, whose assistance in the transport of 
stores was of the utmost service. We must also refer to the 
many acts of kindness and help rendered both officially and un- 
officially by our friend the late James Parsons, Principal Mineral 
Surveyor, whose recent tragic death has deprived the island of 
one of the most scientific of its officials. 

By the kindness of the Colonial Secretar}' and the General 
Manager of the Ceylon Government Railways one of the 
Government motor cars was put at our disposal for a week soon 
after landing. For the benefit of others who may be engaged in 
similar work we desire to refer to the value of a preliminary 
survey of the country conducted from a motor car. Our survey 
enabled us to gain valuable information without going more than 
ten miles on foot from the main road. 

We are indebted to the following gentlemen for help and 


advice on various matters, Dr L. D. Barnett, Mr R. I. Pocock, 
Professor Ridgeway and Mr Vincent A. Snnith. It remains 
to thank Dr W. H. R. Rivers for the unflagging interest 
he has shown in this volume, the whole of which he has 
read in manuscript and discussed with us, to the very great 
advantage of the work. We are also indebted to him for per- 
mission to reproduce from the British Journal of Psychology the 
block which appears on p. 403 ; while some of the figures of 
quartz implements reproduced in Plate VIII have already 
appeared in Man. The index and glossary have been prepared 
by Miss M. C. Jonas. 

C. G. S. 

10 February 191 1. 


The transliteration of unfamiliar oriental words must consti- 
tute a difficulty to all who are not oriental scholars. In the 
present instance the matter is further complicated by the 
phonetic changes undergone by many Sinhalese words in the 
mouths of Veddas and the peasant Sinhalese of the Vedirata. 
Under these circumstances it seemed best not to attempt to 
polish the dialect in which our informants talked, but to treat it 
as an unwritten language, and to write all native words according 
to some generally recognised and easily applied rule. We 
selected the scheme recommended by the Royal Geographical 
Society, under which consonants are pronounced as in English 
and vowels as in Italian, only modifying it by writing c for the ck 
sound in diurcJi. Satisfactory as this plan proved to be in the 
field it is obviously wholly unsuited to that part of the work 
which consists of the transliteration and translation of songs or 
invocations written down in Sinhalese by our interpreters. 
Mr Parker and Mr Gunasekara have therefore made use of. 
a system of transliteration suggested by the former, con- 
sisting of that prescribed by the Ceylon Government (cf. 
Mr Gunasekara's Sinhalese Grammar, pp. 8 and 9) with the 
following modifications : 

( 1 ) Long vowels are indicated by the sign -. 

(2) The letters C&7, S, ^, (£3 are represented by ae, c, ch, s 

S has been represented by v or w. 

Hence the transliteration of the Sinhalese alphabet according: 
to this modified system is as follows : 

Vovvels-f^ a, Cf) a. c^, re, ^^ ae, © i, '6 or <^ I, ^ u, ^-^ u. 
M3 ri, Was ri, r^ li. '^cr, II, 6 e, er e, ^t> ai, ® o, © o, ®<n au. 
^ Consonants— cs< k, ^ kh, cd g, ^ gh, g I'l, © c, e^ ch, 6 j, 
-^ jh, ^ n, a t, c^ th, © d, ^ dh, ^ n, -^ t, 6 th, L\ d, § dh' 
■^ n, d p, er ph ^ b, «5 bh, ® m, d y, <^r, d 1, © v or w <^ ^ 
^ sh, cx5 s, K< h, (g5 1, o n, : h. 


The semi-nasal sounds (represented by the symbol c , as 
in 455 fig, ^ fij, e: nd, (^ iid) are represented by n, and the semi- 
nasal sound (represented by the symbol S as in S)) of m is 
represented by rfi. 

The use of two systems of transliteration in the same book, 
though far from ideal, has, we believe, not led to any ambiguity, 
for the absence of all diacritical marks (with the exception of an 
occasional - over a long vowel) will immediately indicate that a 
word is written as it stood in our field notes. Thus in the 
vocabulary the words are given as we took them down in the 
field, while the more elaborate system of transliteration is used 
by Mr Gunasekara in his notes on the origin of these words. 
From one standpoint there may even be an advantage in the 
use of a simple system of transliteration. Being ignorant of 
Sinhalese we have recorded the sounds we heard, without the 
modifications which a knowledge of the language would suggest. 
Thus hatej'a is everywhere written for Jiatiira (bear) ; Bandara 
pronounced Bandar by all Veddas and many peasant Sinhalese 
will be found printed in both forms, and the spelling of many 
other words is varied in the same manner. Perhaps the most 
striking example of variation in spelling is in the name of the 
people of whom this book treats. We have thought it best to 
use the common English spelling and to write the word Vedda, 
but this word is spelt in at least two other ways, in the verbatim 
quotations from the manuscript or printed works of others. 

C. G. S. 
B. Z. S. 

3 February 1 9 1 1 . 






Note on Transliteration . . . . 



Historical and Geographical . 



Present Condition of the Veddas. 



Social Organization. Genealogies 



Family Life .... 



Property and Inheritance 






Religion [continued) 



Magic .... 



Ceremonial Dances 



Invocations . 



Arts and Cr.\fts . 



Coast Veddas 



Music, by C. S. Myers 



Songs .... 






Senses of the Veddas 



Conclusions . 

Vocabulary . 


Glossary .... 





1. Plan of caves at Bendiyagalge . 

2. Plan of Pihilegodagalge 

3. Toy masliya .... 

4. Plan of the Henebedda Territory 

5. Plan of Sitala Wanniya Territory 

6. Boundary mark .... 

7. Arrow with wooden blade and wooden atide 

8. Aude . 

9. Some of the objects used in the Bambura Yaka ceremony 

{a) Mulpola itiya, {b) Ule, (c) Haelapeta 

10. Ceremonial bow and arrow of Bambura Yaka 

11. Ran kaduwa ......... 

12. Masliya • 

13. Verda bow and harpoon. Iron harpoon head 

14. Plan of Verda temple and its surroundings . . . 

15. Apparatus for testing Miiller-Lyer illusion 








































Frontispiece. The Vedda country, view from Bendiyagalge rocks. 

To face page 
Fig. I. View from the P. W. D. bungalow at Nilgala 
Fig. 2. The Gal Oya river near Nilgala . 
Danigala Veddas on the look-out rock 
Group of Veddas of Henebedda and Bingoda 
Poromala (Walaha), headman of the Henebedda Veddas 
Sita Wanniya of Henebedda 
Sita Wanniya of Henebedda 
Poromala, a Henebedda youth 
Quartz and chert implements 
Steps cut in rock at Bendiyagalge 

Fig. I. A chena settlement of the Henebedda Veddas 
Fig. 2. Henebedda Veddas of the Namadewa clan inhabit 

ing the chena settlement 



Rough shelter on the Danigala rock dome . 
Veddas of Bandaraduwa .... 

Mixed Sinhalese and Vedda chena at Bandaraduwa 
Uniche Veddas . . . . . • 

Women and girls of Sitala Wanniya .... 
Fig. I. Men of mixed Sinhalese and Vedda blood from 


the neighbourhood of Maha Oya 


Women of Omuni ....... 46 

Vedda settlement at Unuwatura Bubula . . 48 

Village Veddas of Dambani 48 

Men of Yakure 56 

Veddas of Ulpota 56 

General view of the rock shelters at Bendiyagalge . 84 

Uhapitagalge rock shelter 84 

Pihilegodagalge rock shelter 84 

Part of Pihilegodagalge rock shelter ... 84 

Lower rock shelter at Bendiyagalge ... 84 

Early morning scene in lower rock shelter 
Bendiyagalge ........ 

Rough shelter built for isolation of women at Unuwatura 

Locks of hair presented to brides at marriage . 

Fig. I. Portion of Pihilegodagalge belonging to Kaira 

Fig. 2. Boundary mark cut by Handuna of Sitala Wanniya 

* An asterisk indicates that the photograph from which the plate is made has 
been touched up. 





























To face page 

Seisin consisting of hair, tooth, quartz fragments and 


Messages scratched on a slip of bark and an ola leaf 
Aude with inlaid silver Bo leaf .... 


1. Arrow dance (Henebedda) 

2. Arrow dance (Henebedda) 
I. Itale Yaka ceremony. Arrow with Na leaves 

attached (Bandaraduwa) .... 

Fig. 2. Itale Yaka ceremony (Bandaraduwa)* . 
Fig. I. Itale Yaka ceremony (Bandaraduwa)* . 
Fig. 2. The Adukku Denawa ceremony (Henebedda) 
Fig. I. Kirikoraha ceremony, censing the aude and 

coconut (Henebedda) 

Fig. 2. Kirikoraha ceremony, the shaman dances with 

the aude and coconut (Henebedda) 
Fig. I. Kirikoraha ceremony, the shaman dances with 
the aude and coconut (Henebedda) 

Kirikoraha ceremony, the shaman breaking 
coconut (Henebedda) . . . . . 
Kirikoraha ceremony, the shaman examines 
offering of coconut milk (Henebedda) . 
Kirikoraha ceremony, the shaman tracking the 






sambar (Henebedda) 

1. Kirikoraha ceremony, the shaman tracking the 
sambar (Henebedda) 

2. Kirikoraha ceremony, the shaman shoots the 
sambar (Henebedda) ... 

I. Kirikoraha ceremony, the shaman 


head over the coconut milk (Henebedda) 
2. Kirikoraha ceremony, the shaman possessed by 








Bilindi Yaka promises good hunting (Henebedda) 

Kirikoraha ceremony, the shaman about to spin the 

pot (Henebedda) 

Fig. 1. Kirikoraha ceremony, the bulatyahana (Unu- 

watura Bubula) 

Fig. 2. Kirikoraha ceremony, the shaman before the 

bulatyahana (Unuwatura Bubula) .... 
Fig. I. Nae Yaku ceremony, the shaman salaams to 

the offering (Bandaraduwa) 

Fig. 2. Nae Yaku ceremony, the shaman pretends to 

stab the offering (Bandaraduwa)* .... 
Fig. I. Nae Yaku ceremony, the shaman possessed 

falls into the arms of a supporter (Bandaraduwa) 
Fig. 2. Nae Yaku ceremony, the shaman sprinkles 

milk from the offering on the brothers of the 

deceased (Bandaraduwa) 

Fig. I. Nae Yaku ceremony, the shaman possessed by 
Kande Yaka tracks the sambar (Bandaraduwa)* . 






























Fig. 2. Nae Yaku ceremony, the brother of the 
deceased falls back possessed (Bandaraduvva) 

Fig. I. Nae Yaku ceremony, the other brother of the 
deceased is also possessed (Bandaraduwa) . 

Fig. 2. Nae Yaku ceremony, the shaman possessed 
by the Nae Yaka embraces the brother of the 
deceased (Bandaraduwa) . . . . . 

Fig. I. Nae Yaku ceremony, the Nae Yaka shows his 
power (Bandaraduwa) ...... 

Fig. 2. Nae Yaku ceremony, the shaman feeds the 
members of the community (Bandaraduwa). 

1. Bambura Yaka ceremony, preparing the tadiya 
(Sitala Wanniya)* 

2. The Bambura Yaka ceremony begins by 
Handuna singing an invocation (Sitala Wanniya)* 

1. Bambura Yaka ceremony, the boar wounds 
the hunter (Sitala Wanniya)* .... 

Bambura Yaka ceremony, the boar is at length 
killed (Sitala Wanniya)* 

I. Bambura Yaka ceremony, the bow of Dunne 
Yakini (Sitala Wanniya)* 

Bambura Yaka ceremony, Kaira dances with 
the iadiya (Sitala Wanniya)* . . 

I . Bambura Yaka ceremony, offerings and proper- 
ties prepared for the ceremony by Wannaku of 
Uniche (Maha Oya) 

Fig. 2. Bambura Yaka ceremony, Wannaku kills the 
boar (Maha Oya)* 

Fig. I. Pata Yaku ceremony, the beginning of the 
dance (Sitala Wanniya)* 

Fig. 2. Pata Yaku ceremony, the shaman buries his 
face in the ustnukaltya (Sitala Wanniya)* . 

Fig. I. Pata Yaku ceremony, the shaman predicts the 
sex of the child (Sitala Wanniya)* . 

Fig. 2. Pata Yaku ceremony, Nila prays for his 
daughter's safe delivery (Sitala Wanniya)* . 

Dola Yaka ceremony, the offering to the Yaku (Sitala 
Wanniya)* . . . _ 

Fig. I. Rahu Yaka ceremony, the beginning of the 
dance (Sitala Wanniya)* 

Fig. 2. Rahu Yaka ceremony, the shaman prophesies 
good luck in hunting and honey gathering (Sitala 

Fig. I. Wanagata Yaku ceremony, the shaman offers 
betel leaves to the Yaku (Unuwatura Bubula) 

Fig. 2. Wanagata Yaku ceremony, the shaman pos- 
sessed by the Yaku (Unuwatura Bubula) . 




face page 









PLATE ^'^ face page 

L. Fig. I. Alutyakagama ceremony, the beginning of the 

invocation (Unuwatura Bubula) .... 261 
L. Fig. 2. Alutyakagama ceremony, the shaman and his 

supporter at the alutyakagama (Unuwatura Bubula) 261 
LL Fig. I. Alutyakagama ceremony, testing the offering 

(Unuwatura Bubula) 261 

LL Fig. 2. Alutyakagama ceremony, the shaman comes to 

us with an aude in each hand (Unuwatura Bubula) 261 

LI I. Fig. I. Alutyakagama ceremony, the shaman about to 

spin the pot of food (Unuwatura Bubula) . . 262 

LI I. Fig. 2. Ruwala ceremony, the riiivala prepared by 

Wannaku of Uniche (Maha Oya) . . . . 262 
LIII. Fig. I. Kolamaduwa ceremony, the ^^/rt;;««^«wa(He- 

nebedda) 268 

LIII. Fig. 2. Kolamaduwa ceremony, the beginning of the 

dance (Henebedda) 268 

LIV. Fig. I. Kolamaduwa ceremony, the shaman and Sita 

Wanniya become possessed (Henebedda)* . . 268 
LIV. Fig. 2. Kolamaduwa ceremony, slashing the leaves 

from the kolaniaduwa (Henebedda) . . . 268 
LV. Nila holding bow while reciting invocation No. xxill. 

When the name of the yaka causing the illness is 

spoken the bow swings to and fro . . . . 290 

LVI. Fig. I. Rock drawings in Pihilegodagalge cave . 320 

LVI. Fig. 2. Rock drawings in Pihilegodagalge cave . 320 

LVI I. Fig. I. Rock drawings in Pihilegodagalge cave . 320 
LVI I. Fig. 2. Rock drawings of //a«^^/?^ in Gamakandegalge 

cave . 320 

LVI 1 1. Vedda drawings 320 

LIX. Vedda drawings ' . . 320 

LX. Vedda drawings 320 

LXI. Vedda drawings 320 

LXII. Vedda pots 324 

LXI 1 1. Handuna of Henebedda stringing his bow. . . 326 

LXIV. Handuna shooting 326 

LXV. Deerskin vessel (tnaludemd) used for collecting honey . 328 

LXVI. Gourd used as bee hive (Henebedda) .... 328 

LXVII. Betel pouch made of monkey skin (Henebedda) . 330 

LXVIII. Fig. I. Coast Veddas 332 

LXV 1 1 1. Fig. 2. Coast Veddas of Vakarai .... 332 

LXIX. Fig. I. Settlement of Coast Veddas .... 332 

LXIX. Fig. 2. Settlement of Coast Veddas .... 332 
LXX. Fig. I. Site of dance at Vakarai, showing kudaram 

and pole IZ^ 

LXX. Fig. 2. Dancing round the kudaram .... 338 

LXXI. The end of the dance at Vakarai .... 338 


Page i6 line 25 to p. 17 line 4 for "mm." read "m." 
Page 18 line 24 for " chaemaeprospes " read " chamaeprospes 
Page 21 line 24 for "I" read "we" 
Page 25 footnote line i for "I" read "we" 
Page 35 line i for ^' ruwela" read ^' riiwala'^ 
Page 44 line 7 for " i -530 mm." read "i-53m." 
Page 45 footnote line 7 for ^Uavilavi" read ^'tavalam" 
Page 141 line 23 for " Panikki Yaka " read " Panikkia Yaka" 
Page 149 line 26 for "Vijeyo" read "Vijaya" 
Page 150 line 12 for "Galmeda" read "Galmede" 

Page 153 line 34 for "Chapter vii" read "in the Addendum to this chapter" 
Page 165 line 25 for " Wanegatha " and page 170 line 36, and page 172 line 20 
for "Wanegata" read "Wanagata" 

Page 167 line 12 for " Ganga Bandar" read " Gange Bandar" 

Page 204 lines 6, 10 and 12 respectively read 

"Go and cleave it in the tail, by the ribs" 
"Go and cleave it in the neck, by the ribs" 
"Go and cleave it in the stomach, by the ribs" 

Page 204 for lines 20 to 22 read '^ Laetten is the ablative case of ila-aeta, rib" 

Page 229 line 6 for " many jrt/'rt " read " many j«/^« " 

Page 231 line 19 for "hangalla" read " kangala" 

Page 245 line 21 for "Ala Yaka" read "Ale Yaka" 

Page 302 line 11 and p. 333 line 14 for "Chapter viii" read "Chapter Vll " 

Page 322 last line for " Chapter XV " read " Chapter xiv " 




The Vedda country at the present day is limited to a 
roughly triangular tract lying between the eastern slopes of 
the central mountain massif and the sea. This area of about 
2400 square miles is bounded on the west by the Mahaweli 
Ganga, from the point where, abandoning its eastern course 
through the mountains of the Central Province, the river sweeps 
northwards to the sea. A line from this great bend passing 
eastwards through Bibile village (on the Badulla-Batticaloa 
road) to the coast will define the southern limits of the Vedda 
country with sufficient accuracy, vdiile its eastern limit is the 
coast. So defined it includes the greater part of the Eastern 
Province, about a fifth of Uva and a small portion of that part 
of the North Central Province known as Tamankaduwa, and 
is traversed by a single high road capable of taking wheeled 
traffic. This runs from Badulla, the capital of Uva, lying at 
the foot of the central mountain mass of the island, to the coast 
a few miles to the north of Batticaloa, the capital of the Eastern 

Excepting only the mountain scenery of Upper Uva and 
the Central Province, the Vedda country even in its present 
diminished form presents every variety of scenery met with 
in Ceylon, including alike the magnificent Uva park lands and 
the sandy mangrove-fringed flats of the Eastern coast. Within 
its borders is situated Mahayangana (Alutnuwara) the ancient 
assembling place of the Yakkas where, according to the Maha- 
wansa, Buddha appeared and struck terror into their hearts 
before propounding his doctrines to the hosts of deva who 
s. v. I 


attended him there. Here was erected the Mahayangana 
dagaba, the oldest in Ceylon, built over the relics of the very 
Buddha and from its inception to the present day the goal 
of countless generations of pious pilgrims reaching it by 
descending the Gallepadahulla, the pass of two thousand steps, 
that leads in less than an hour from the breezy uplands of the 
Central Province to the steamy river valley two thousand feet 
below. It is from this, the old pilgrim path, wending its way 
above the pass through the pleasant hills of Uva from the 
forgotten city of Medamahanuwara, that the best idea of the 
Vedda country is obtained. A sudden rise in the ground gives 
the first view of the Vedda country through a V-shaped frame 
of hills, and from such a spot as this Knox must have looked 
upon Bintenne. " It (the country of Bintan) seems to be a 
smooth land and not much hilly, the great river running through 
the midst of it. It is all over covered with mighty woods and 
abundance of deer, but much subject to dry weather and 
sickness. In these woods is a sort of wild people inhabiting, 
whom we shall speak of in their placed" 

Continuing along the path a little further, a wider view is 
obtained where the track seems to end abruptly in a great rock, 
the Ballangala or look-out rock, upon which the pilgrim halts 
to gaze reverently upon the ancient dagaba and the flat land 
spread out before him. 

Here flows the Mahaweli ganga, soon to be hidden in the 
great sea of forest-clad lowland stretching away to the north, 
from which rise Kokagalla and other hills, the traditional homes of 
the Veddas, like rocky islands in the distance. To the east tower 
the Uva Mountains, stretching onwards in a diminishing series 
towards the uplands of Nilgala. In Bintenne, including in this 
term parts of both Uva and the Eastern Province, the jungle 
consists of a forest of great trees without much undergrowth, 
occasionally interrupted by open spaces, covered with coarse 
grass, which, however, does not grow much higher than the 
knee. These open patches are more numerous in the Eastern 
Province than they are in Uva Bintenne (which is traversed by 

^ An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon in the East Indies, London, i68i. 
Chapter ii, p. 5. 

Plate I 

Fig. I. View from the P. W. D. bungalow at Nilgala 

Fig. 2. The Gal Oya river near Nilgala 


many small streams) and it is generally supposed that they are 
the sites of ancient cultivation ; there are comparatively few 
streams in this country though swamps and small water holes 
containing stagnant water are common ^ 

Northward in Tamankaduwa (a division of the North 
Central Province) the great trees give place to poorer growth 
and a scrubby jungle is found. On the east of the Badulla- 
Batticaloa road lie the Nilgala hills, the best of the Vedda 
domain and the most pleasing country in Ceylon. Here, broad 
valleys lie between jungle-clad ranges of much weathered gneiss, 
among whose rocky crags and rounded domes, bambara, the 
rock bee {Apis indica), builds its combs. Here is no gloomy 
jungle, but in the valleys are many thickets and small trees 
growing scattered as in a young orchard, their trunks protected 
by coarse lalang grass which often attains 5 or 6 feet in 

^ The character of the Bintenne of the Eastern Province has been well stated by 
Mr H. Freeman, Government Agent for tlie Eastern Province, in his Administration 
Report for 1908, for the following extract from which I am indehted to Mr John 
Ferguson: "This is an unsatisfactor)' region ; a wretched population of about 3,000 
in the largest pattu of the Province has, with the exception of three or four small 
patches of paddy land, nothing to live on except chenas and jungle produce; they 
have not the advantage of the hundreds along the coast who can get a sort of living 
by begging from their neighbours. Necessarily the Bintenna folk are miserable in 
appearance ; nearly all of them are sick. There are many abandoned tanks, but the 
people have neither the physique nor the will to restore them. There are no coconuts 
to speak of in Bintenna ; the few trees are either infertile or barren. Still we must 
take the people and the country as we find them, and rather than let the population 
drift away from Bintenna to the chena country of Uva, I would concentrate them on 
the more fertile spots about Kallodai, Maha-oya, PuUumalai and Tempitiya, on or 
near the Badulla road, and endeavour to teach them to do tank work ; there are 
promising, abandoned, tanks, which could be restored, and the land settled on the 
people on easy terms. Plentiful chenas would be necessary to fill the stomachs of the 
people to get work out of them ; maize grows well in Bintenna ; it is now imported in 
large quantities from Uva ; large tracts of Bintenna could be turned into maize fields 
for the supply of the people on the coast also, while Uva could then keep to itself its 
supplies of this commodity sent down to this district.. ..In addition to the Sinhalese 
population of Bintenna there are the Veddas,...and bands of gipsies find a good 
hunting ground there. Some of these have just been prosecuted and imprisoned for 
violating the Game Laws, and also made to pay road tax, payment of which they 
have evaded for years ; the gipsies have considerable wealth in cattle and other 
property; they also drink and steal. Since writing the above on the condition of 
Bintenna I have explored other and remoter parts of that division, and find that 
whatever prosperity in paddy cultivation it enjoyed in the distant past must 'have 
been due to the Rajakariya system, in the absence of which Bintenna will probably 
remain a wilderness for an indefinitely long period." 

I 2 


height. Clear rock-strewn streams abound, their banks 
brightened by the deep green leaves and the bright red flowers 
of the ratmal {Ixora coccined). Scattered masses of rock often 
of great size form convenient shelters for the Veddas, and assist 
the rapid drainage of the country, which does not become water- 
logged even during torrential rains. This beautiful country is 
rich in game. To the east, where many Veddas have drifted, 
the jungle is thicker, the land lies lower, and is generally less 
healthy. The Nuwaragala Hills to the north of the Nilgala 
ranges are perhaps the wildest part of the island and are more 
densely clothed in jungle, but there are plenty of streams, while 
the slope of the country permits of ready drainage. 

The coastal zone north of Batticaloa inhabited by the coast 
Veddas is flat and sandy, and the vegetation though dense 
is often less tall and less abundant than in other parts of the 
country. Salt water marshes are common, and the country 
is cut into by numerous lagoons and creeks, often bounded 
by a fringe of mangroves which stretches some distance up 
the mouths of the rivers. Although this area may now, and 
for yet a few years, be rightly called the Vedda country it must 
not be thought that any considerable number of its inhabitants 
are Veddas, or that they exercise any territorial or political 
influence ; on the contrary, they constitute an insignificant 
fraction of the Tamil and Sinhalese inhabitants before whom 
they are rapidly disappearing, partly by intermarriage and 
absorption, partly owing to misery and a high death rate 
brought about by sheer inability to cope with the new state 
of affairs that the increased settlement of this, the wildest part 
of the island, has brought about. 

Formerly the Vedda country is known to have embraced 
the whole of the Uva, and much of the Central and North 
Central Provinces, while there is no reason to suppose that their 
territory did not extend beyond these limits. Indeed there is 
no reasonable doubt that the Veddas are identical with the 
" Yakkas " of the Mahavansa and other native chronicles. 

The seventh chapter of the Mahawansa relates the arrival in 
Ceylon, B.C. 543, of Vijaya who married Kuweni an aboriginal 
princess {Yakkini) and by her assistance destroyed a great 


number of her people, and established the earliest Sinhalese 
kingdom. Later, after she had borne him a son and a daughter, 
Vijaya being urged by his followers to take a royal bride sent 
an embassy to Madura, asking for the hand of the daughter 
of King Pandava. The latter agreed to the alliance. Vijaya 
" receiving the announcement of the arrival of this royal maiden, 
and considering it impossible that the princess could live with 
him at the same time with the yakkini, he thus explained 
himself to Kuweni : 'A daughter of royalty is a timid being; 
on that account, leaving the children with me, depart from 
my house.' She replied : ' On thy account, having murdered 
yakkhas, I dread these yakkhas : now I am discarded by both 
parties; whither can I take myself?' 'Within my dominions 
(said he) to any place thou pleasest which is unconnected with 
yakkhas; and I will maintain thee with a thousand bali offerings.' 
She who had been thus interdicted (from uniting herself with 
the yakkhas) with clamorous lamentation, taking her children 
with her, in the character of an inhuman being, wandered to 
that very city (Lankapura) of inhuman inhabitants. She left 
her children outside the yakkha city. The yakkhas, on seeing her 
enter the city, quickly surrounded her, crying out : ' It is for the 
purpose of spying us that she has come back ! ' And when 
the yakkhas were greatly excited, one of them, whose anger was 
greatly kindled, put an end to the life of the yakkini by a blow 
of his hand. Her uncle, a yakkha (named Kumara), happening 
to proceed out of the yakkha city, seeing these children outside 
the town, * Whose children are ye .-* ' said he. Being informed 
'Kuveni's' he said, 'Your mother is murdered: if ye should 
be seen here, they would murder you also: fly quickly.' Instantly 
departing thence, they repaired to the (neighbourhood of the) 
Sumanakuta (Adam's Peak). The elder having grown up, 
married his sister, and settled there. Becoming numerous 
by their sons and daughters, under the protection of the king, 
they resided in the Malaya district. This is the origin of the 
Pulindas (hill-men)." 

Such chronicles though interesting tell us little or nothing 
concerning the habits and customs of those Veddas who did 
not adopt a Sinhalese mode of life ; the same may be said 


of the earliest foreign records such as that found in the tract 
De Moribiis Brachmanoriim written about 400 A.D., the author of 
which professes to have obtained his information from a Theban 


To Robert Knox, who wrote in 1681 after a captivity in 
Ceylon lasting 20 years, belongs the credit of having first 
accurately described the Veddas. " Of these Natives there be 
two sorts Wild and Tame. I will begin with the former. For 
as in these Woods there are Wild Beasts so Wild Men also. 
The Land of Bintan is all covered with mighty Woods, filled 
with abundance of Deer. In this Land are many of these wild 
men ; they call them Vaddahs, dwelling near no other Inhabi- 
tants. They speak the Chingidayes Language. They kill Deer, 
and dry the Flesh over the fire, and the people of the Countrey 
come and buy it of them. They never Till any ground for 
Corn, their Food being only Flesh. They are very expert with 
their Bows. They have a little ax, which they stick by their 
sides, to cut hony out of hollow Trees. Some few, which are 
near Inhabitants, have commerce with other people. They 
have no Towns nor Houses, only live by the waters under 
a Tree, with some boughs cut and laid about them, to give 
notice when any wild Beasts come near, which they may hear 
by their rustling and trampling upon them. Many of these 
Habitations we saw when we fled through the Woods, but God 
be praised the Vaddahs were gone. 

" Some of the tamer sort of these men are in a kind of 
Subjection to the King. For if they be found, tho it must be 
with a great search in the woods, they will acknowledge his 
Officers, and will bring to them Elephant-teeth, and Honey, and 
Wax, and Deers Flesh ; but the others in lieu thereof do give 
them near as much, in Arrows, Cloth, etc. fearing lest they 
should otherwise appear no more. 

" It had been reported to me by many people, that the 
wilder sort of them, when they want Arrows, will carry their 
load of Flesh in the night, and hang it up in a Smith's Shop, 
also a Leaf cut in the form they will have their Arrows made, 
and hang by it. Which if the Smith do make according to 
their Pattern they will requite, and bring him more Flesh : 


but if he make them not, they will do him a mischief one time 
or another by shooting in the night. If the Smith make the 
Arrows, he leaves them in the same place, where the Vaddahs 

hung the Flesh. 


"About Hourly the remotest of the King's Dominions there 
are many of them, that are pretty tame, and come and buy and 
sell among the people. The King once having occasion of an 
hasty Expedition against the Dutch, the Governour summoned 
them all in to go with him, which they did. And with their 
Bows and Arrows did as good service as any of the rest but 
afterwards when they returned home again, they removed farther 
in the Woods, and would be seen no more, for fear of being 
afterwards prest again to serve the King. 

" They never cut their hair but tye it up on their Crowns 
in a bunch. The cloth they use, is not broad nor large, scarcely 
enough to cover their Buttocks. The ivilder and tamer sort 
of them do both observe a Religion. They have a God peculiar 
to themselves. The tamer do build Temples, the wild only bring 
their sacrifice under Trees, and while it is offering, dance round 
it, both men and women. 

" They have their bounds in the Woods among themselves, 
and one company of them is not to shoot nor gather hony 
or fruit beyond those bounds. Neer the borders stood a Jack- 
Tree; one Vaddah being gathering some fruit from this Tree, 
another Vaddah of the next division saw him, and told him 
he had nothing to do to gather Jacks from that Tree, for that 
belonged to them. They fell to words and from words to 
blows, and one of them shot the other. At which more of 
them met and fell to skirmishing so briskly with their Bows 
and Arrows, that twenty or thirty of them were left dead upon 
the spot. 

" They are so curious of their Arrows that no smith can 
please them : The King once to gratifie them for a great Present 
they brought him, gave all of them of his best made Arrow- 
blades : which nevertheless would not please their humour. For 
they went all of them to a Rock by a River and ground 
them into another form. The Arrows they use are of a 


different fashion from all other, and the Chingnlays will not 
use them. 

"They have a peculiar way by themseh^es of preserving 
Flesh. They cut a hollow Tree and put honey in it, and then 
fill it up with flesh, and stop it up with clay. Which lyes for a 
reserve to eat in time of want. 

" It has usually been told me that their way of catching 
Elephants is, that when the Elephant lyes asleep they strike 
their ax into the sole of his foot, and so laming him he is in 
their power to take him. But I take this for a fable, because 
I know the sole of the Elephants foot is so hard, that no axe 
can pierce it at a blow ; and he is so wakeful that they can 
have no opportunity to do it. 

" For portions with their Daughters in marriage they give 
hunting Dogs. They are reported to be courteous. Some of 
the Chitigidays in discontent will leave their houses and friends, 
and go and live among them, where they are civilly entertained. 
The tamer sort of them, as hath been said, will sometimes appear, 
and hold some kind of trade with the tame Inhabitants, but the 
wilder called Raniba- Vaddahs never show themselves." 

From Knox's account it is evident that in his time or a little 
before this, some of the Veddas were in touch with the court 
and were even sufficiently amenable to discipline to be of use as 
// an auxiliary fighting force, indeed, there is abundant evidence 
j that long before this a part of the inhabitants of Ceylon, with 
enough Vedda blood in them for their contemporaries to call 
them Veddas, were politically organized and constituted a force 
whom the rulers of the island found it necessary to consider. 
Upon this subject we cannot do better than quote part of a 
letter from Mr H. Parker in which this authority states his 
views on this subject. " At the time when Sinhalese history 
begins, a part of them [Veddas] had reached a far more advanced 
state than the others. They were politically organised, and 
according to the Mahavansa had a supreme king and subordinate 
chiefs 80 years after Wijaya became king^ 

^ "He established the yakkhas Kalavela in the eastern quarter of the city 
[Anuradhapura] ; and the chief of the yakkhas, Citta, he established on the lower side 
of the Abhaya tank. He (the king), who knew how to accord his protection with 


" The invaders, or rather settlers, from the valley of the 
Ganges intermarried with these more advanced natives, and 
became the Sinhalese of the present day (with a later mixture 
of Tamil or Indian blood). 

" The wilder natives continued to lead the life of their 
primitive ancestors, and only to a very limited extent inter- 
married with the Sinhalese. 

" Three or four centuries ago the Vaeddas were spread over 
the Matale district and the North-western Province, and I believe 

discrimination, established the slave born of the yakkha tribe, who had formerly 
rendered him great service, at the southern gate of the city. He established within 
the garden of the royal palace the mare-faced yakkhini, and provided annually demon 
offerings to them as well as to others. 

"In the days of public festivity, this monarch, seated on a throne of equal eminence 
with the yakkha chief Cilta, caused joyous spectacles, representing the actions of the 
devas as well as of mortals to be exhibited 

"This monarch befriending the interests of the yakkhas, with the co-operation of 
Kalavela and Citta, who had the power (though yakkhas) of rendering themselves 
invisible (in the human world), conjointly with them, enjoyed his prosperity." 
Mahavansa, Chapter x, p. 44 (Tournour's translation). Further, the same king 
" provided... a temple [or " tala tree," the readings differ] for the Vyadha-deva " 
which Mr Parker states must refer to the Vedda God. 

' Additional evidence for this is given by Nevill who says — •" I have unpublished 
Mss. which represent the Vaeddas as found in the forests north of Putlam at the time 
of Bhuwaneka Bahu Raja of Kotta (about 1466 A.D.), and another which represents 
Vaeddas as the chief inhabitants of the Matale district in the region of Raja Sinha, 
about 1635 A.D." {Taprohanian, Vol. 11, April 1883, p. 30). With regard to 
Veddas in Sabaragamuwa, Bailey notes that- — "Though traces of their former 
existence there are evident and numerous, there is every reason to believe that many 
centuries have passed since they were there. Fields, villages and families yet retain 
the name Veddahs, as Weddeya pangoo, Wedde coombore, Wedde watte, Wedde 

ella, Wedde gala, Weddege etc Indeed, Saffragam, or Habara gamowa, means 

the district of Veddahs, or barbarous people : and in this form of the word, the former 
existence of Veddahs again can be traced, as Habara goddege, Habara kadowa, etc. 
It is traditional throughout Saffragam, that once Veddahs predominated over 
Sinhalese in that district, and that, as the latter gained ground, the former withdrew 

towards Bintene and Wellasse Mr Macready, of the Civil Service, has given me 

very important proof of the existence of Veddahs ' near the Sumanta mountains ' 
[Adam's Peak]. He has given me the translation of some stanzas from a Sinhalese 
poem, written about 400 years ago, called the Pirawi Sandese, or the dove's message. 
The poem treats of a message sent, by means of a dove, from Cotta (near Colombo) 
to Vishnu at Dondera, at the extreme south of the island. The dove takes its course 
exactly over the district lying below Adam's Peak. The poet addresses the dove, and 
tells her she will see ' the daughters of the Veddahs ' clothed in Riti bark, their hair 
adorned with peacock's plumes. So wild are they that the poet describes the herds 
of deer as being startled at the sight of them." (" Wild Tribes of the Veddahs of 


" A 1 6th century MS. — the Wanni Kada-in Pota — records 
the appointment of a Vaedda chief as Bandara Mudiyanse 
(a title applied only to high caste chiefs) ; at the king's orders 
(Bhuvanaika Bahu of Kotta) he fixed the boundaries of four 
districts or " Pattus " of the North-western Province. His name 
was Panikki Vaedda\ he caught elephants and took some to 
the king, with another Vaedda chief, a Registrar or Secretary, 
called Liyana Vaedda. I have an early 17th century MS. 
which gives an account of part of a civil war in the Matale 
District, carried on by his nephew against the king who 
imprisoned Knox. Among the insurgent leaders were first, 
three Sinhalese chiefs of Matale, and after them are enumerated 
a number of Vaedda chiefs (including one woman) who are all 
expressly said to be Vaeddas ; of the 'Vaedda wasagama'; one 
of them was the chief of Bibilel" 

Ceylon," Trans. Ethnol. Soc. 1863, Vol. Ii, p. 313.) Within the last few months the 
matter has been rendered almost certain by the discovery by the late James Parsons 
to the N.E. of Ratnapura of quartz implements of the type figured in Plate VIII. 

■• The mention of the existence of a chief called Panikki Vedda is especially 
interesting since Panikkia Yaka reputed to be the spirit {yaka) of a long dead Vedda 
chief, who was especially skilled in hunting buffalo and elephant, is honoured among 
the Henebedda Veddas. This record shows that the memory of this " Vedda" chief 
has been maintained among the local peasant Sinhalese, who themselves are partly 
of Vedda descent, until it recently passed to the Henebedda Veddas. (Cf. Religion, 
Chapter vi.) 

- The present day Sinhalese of the Vedirata say that such Vedda chiefs as those 
here recorded were called -tvaitniya and repaired annually to Kandy with offerings of 
honey, wax, and venison for the king, who might also invite their presence on special 
occasions when they would attend, each wanniya bringing with him a ceremonial 
fanlike ornament (still used by the Sinhalese chiefs) called atuupata (literally "fan "), 
with an ornament made of wood or ivory on the top called koj-andmua, or kota. 
Mr Bibile told us the following story of what happened on one occasion when the 
wiuiniya stayed near Kandy with one Galebandar who seems to have been a Vedda. 
The king instructed Galebandar to remove the kota from his guests' awitpata without 
their knowledge. On the day of the audience these kota were missing, and as there 
was no time to get others the Vedda chiefs had to go before the king without them. 
The king questioned them: "Where are your kota'i Lost!" and the king said 
" Henceforth only I will have the right to kota and you Vedda chiefs have no right to 
them." And the king called the Veddr chiefs bandar, each zvan^iiya being given a 
name, e.g. Mahabandar, Hantanebandar, Talabandar, Kirtibandar, Rangotibandar, 
Rattebandar, Pebandar, Motubandar, Kapurubandar, and so forth, and henceforth the 
Veddas must needs go to Kandy yearly taking tribute to the king. And their people 
took their chiefs' names as community names, e.g. Danigala and Henebedda are 
Mahabandar. It did not appear that bandar names of this sort were generally known 
to the Veddas, and we confess that we at present attach no importance to the story we 


Veddas are also mentioned in an old family record translated 
by Nevill which he terms the Nadu Kadu Chronicle and which 
he considers cannot be later than the sixteenth century^ 

The following references to Veddas are taken from the 
chronicle, for, though they obviously refer to settled and civilised 
Veddas who may have had little Vedda blood in their veins, 
they are interesting as showing the social and political influence 
exerted by these. 

The first passage concerns two Pattani soldiers engaged by 
the Sinhalese chief as guards. 

" Then he took them with him, thinking they will be good to 
guard against the troubles caused by the Vedas. He kept them 
as a guard against the Vedas of Pala Vekama." 

The next reference runs : " The chief of all the Vedas was 
Karadiyan. What was their service ? It was to erect temporary 

have cited, which is only given here because we feel that it is possible that in the 
hands of competent historians it may prove to be of some use. 

^ "Report reached me that a valuable record existed, kept in hereditary and 
exclusive possession by an old family in the district of Nadu Kadu. Nadu Kadu 
is the modern Tamil name of the Na-deaiya, or Naga-divayinna, of the Eastern 
Province of Ceylon, and is situated to the south of Batticaloa. It was, in early times, 
an independent or feudatory principality, sometimes one, sometimes the other; and it 

was here Sada Tisa, brother of Dutugaemunu, ruled The record evidently refers 

to a time when this district was depopulated of its former Sinhalese land-owners, and 
all cultivation of rice had been abandoned. It tells us how a band of Sinhalese took 
up these lands, and redeemed them, preserving friendly relations with the Vaeddas, 
Malabars, and Mukkuvars, who held the forests and coast. 

"The record is said to have been in Sinhalese, but was translated into Tamil by 
the ancestors of the family from whom I procured it, the hereditary managers of the 
Thiru Kowil temple. They said that during the guerilla warfare between the English 
and the Vanni Chiefs and Dissavas of Uva and Velasse, the Sinhalese villagers of the 
district migrated (? were deported) to the Kandian hills and their place was filled up 
by emigrants from Jaffna, Tamil Vellalans. Hence the Sinhalese record became 
useless, and was translated. It bears on its face the proof of this translation, in many 
odd changes and expressions. 

"The settlers were a family of Sinhalese nobles of high rank, whose ladies held the 
hereditary dignity of foster-m. 'liter to the royal princes 

" They were banished to Erukamam, then a deserted site, but anciently the capital 
of Sada Tisa. We have incidentally an interesting glimpse at the household of a 
feudal noble, of this period, about the thirteenth century, 

"The work of cuttmg down the trees that had overgrown the rice-lands was done 
by the Vaeddahs, doubtless for a share of the crop, and the powerful Wanni Rajas 
were gratified with separate tracts, reclaimed for their exclusive benefit, just as among 
their Kandian hills, the settlers had been accustomed to sow the mutettu lands, the 
crop of which went to the feudal chief." Taprobanian, Vol. II, p. 127. 


buildings and screens ; and they were allowed if they erected 
a dam for Sevuka field at Sunga Ford, and took charge of the 
land, stacking the crop, to thresh and take each the grain of one 
sheath. Over every one the Vedas were the chief men." 

Again it says : " The Veda Puliyan was the chief of the 
Seven Wanams of Akkara Pattu. On the way to Akkara 
Pattu is Puliyan Tivu, he remaining there, used to send to the 
Muthaliyar and his family, wax, honey and other things...." 

" Because he supplied pingos (i.e. presents) for the Seven 
Wanam, Rajapaksa Muthaliyar gave Kandi in marriage to the 
Veda Puliyan and he lived at Puliyan Tivu." 

The next reference is by no means clear, but it shows how 
intermarriage between Veddas and Sinhalese might come about. 
The last few lines of this passage are especially difficult to 
understand ; they seem to show that the Vedda grandfather 
of the girl given to the washer had recognised rights in his 
grandchildren, and that he was of enough importance to be 
propitiated with gifts of cloth. 

" Besides this, Nilame Rala and his wife and people, going 
to Sitawakka, returned by the Bintenne road to Nadu Kadu. 
Whilst so coming, a Veda woman brought forth a child on the 
path at Sellapattu, and without cleansing it or securing the 
umbilical cord, left it on the path. They seeing that child, 
brought it up. The Veda woman returning for the child could 
not see it, but found the tracks of many people on the path, and 
went away thinking they had taken it. They brought up the 
child with the name of Para Natchi (Mistress Road). She was 
given in marriage to one Muttuvan and had i6 daughters. 
Of these fifteen were given in marriage, and the youngest was 
unmarried. Then the washer who came with them, having lost 
his wife, was single... they gave him in marriage the youngest 
daughter of the Veda woman. Children were born to these. 
The Sellapattu Veda hearing of this, year by year began to sell 
the children. That custom exists among the Paravar also, 
and among the Sandar. As he did so, saying they must 
make gifts to that Veda, buying ten cubits of broad-cloth, 
tearing it into pieces of four cubits, they gave it to the Veda \" 

^ The Taprobanian, Vol. II, p. 140. 


It is clear that in the condition of affairs here recorded 
there must for many centuries have been a zone of contact 
between Veddas and Sinhalese, and that contact metamorphosis 
must have occurred in both peoples. There is abundant 
evidence of this, and we should not insist further on this point 
if it were not necessary to combat a view which, if not clearly 
expressed, nevertheless seems to dominate much that has been 
written on the Veddas. We refer to the belief that although 
the Veddas have been much influenced by the Sinhalese, the 
latter owe little or nothing to the Veddas. The former pro- 
position finds its fullest exposition in the statement so often 
made to us in Ceylon that "there are no real Veddas left"; but 
with the exception of Nevill, we cannot find that anyone who 
has written on Ceylon has held that the Veddas have strongly 
influenced the Sinhalese^ That this influence was, however, 
of importance is shown by the fact that the families of the 
present aristocracy of the Vedda country are proud of their 
Vedda descent, which is equally acknowledged by themselves 
and the less wild Veddas. Thus Mr W. R. Bibile Ratema- 
hatmaya pointed out to me that long ago his people were 
Veddas, and that even after certain of his ancestors had settled 
down and had intermarried so as to be classed as Sinhalese, 
there were subsequent infusions of Vedda blood into the family. 
It was clear that this relationship to the Veddas was the reason 
for the prestige he undoubtedly enjoyed among the Danigala 
and the Henebedda Veddas. For the same reason one of his 
relatives was allowed to pasture his cattle on Henebedda 

^ Since the above was written we have learnt from Mr Parker that he regards the 
Kandyan Sinhalese as essentially Veddas with an infusion of foreign blood, and this 
view is stated in Ancient Ceylon (cf. especially p. 30). 

It appears to us that the considerable physical differences which undoubtedly exist 
between the Veddas and Kandyan Sinhalese do not support this belief in anything like 
its extreme form, though it is but reasonable to suppose that there is Vedda blood in 
the inhabitants of the Kandyan districts. We do not think this is the case to any very 
large extent for, although constantly on the look out for Sinhalese who resembled 
Veddas, we did not see any except in the present Vedirata, and even there we did not 
see many. Further, the measurements of the Sarasins show that there is a difference 
of 61 mm. or nearly 25 inches in the stature of Veddas and Kandyan Sinhalese. The 
actual figures which are taken from the tables at the end of the Sarasins' volume are 
as follows, the average of 24 Vedda men was 1*553 m. and the average of 10 Kandyans 
was I '6 1 4 m. 



territory in the neighbourhood of Pattiavelagalge cave described 
in Chapter V. This was about lOO years ago, and may have 
been connected with the troubles of the revolution which un- 
doubtedly led to an influx of Sinhalese into the wilds of the 
Vedda country. 

Further, the eschatological beliefs of the Kandyan Sinhalese 
furnish abundant evidence that these have been influenced by 
the Veddas, and certain of these beliefs can be explained on no 
other hypothesis, unless it be asserted that the beliefs of the 
Veddas and those of the invading Sinhalese were from the first 
nearly identical. We refer particularly to the bandara beliefs 
described on pp. 141 to 145, which have probably attained to 
the position they now hold because, as pointed out to us by 
Mr Parker, it is in accordance with Sinhalese Buddhist teaching 
that the spirits of the deceased may become yakii. This of 
course might merely imply that Sinhalese Buddhism had 
originally been influenced by the Vedda Cult of the Dead, but i 
that this is not the explanation is shown by the fact — for 
information concerning which we are indebted to Mr Parker — 
that the Low-Country Sinhalese have nothing of the Kandyan 
"hero and ancestor worship" as it is styled by this authority^ 

Sir James Emerson Tennant devoted a chapter of his 
monumental work to the Veddas, but interesting as this chapter 
is it contains " little else than a comparison of the habits of the 
people of the island, as observed by the ancient voyagers in 
the fourth and fifth centuries, with the traditional... customs 
of the Veddahs as reported by Knox. The accomplished author 
throws no new light on the wild tribes of the Veddahs as they 
are. On the contrary, his account of them is in some important 
particulars defective, and even inaccurate. He glances casually 
at those tribes which are in the wildest state, touching with 
precision none of their peculiarities, and dwells in detail upon 
those only, which, from long association with the Sinhalese and 
Tamil races, have lost much of their originality. Of the ancient 
aborigines he has compiled much that is curious. Of the existing 
Veddahs he has given us little besides an epitome of former 

^ We again quote from one of Mr Parker's letters. 


So wrote John Bailey in 1863 in a footnote to the paper 
in which his own observations are reported, and no one who 
knows the Veddas will disagree with him. Indeed, Bailey's paper 
is a remarkably careful and critical piece of work, concerning 
which all must agree with Nevill who recognised it as the first 
scientific account of the Veddas^ 

It was succeeded in 1881 by a summary by Virchow of what 
was then known of the Veddas, and measurements were given of 
a number of Vedda skulls. This paper was translated into 
English and published in 1886 in Vol. IX of the Journal of 
the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. But no original 
detailed study of the sociology of the Veddas appeared until 
the extremely valuable observations of the late Hugh Nevill,! 
to which we shall frequently refer, appeared in the Taprobaiiian, 
to be followed in 1893 by a magnificently illustrated work 
Die Weddas von Ceylon nnd die sie iwigebenden Volkerschaften, 
published by the Doctors Paul and Fritz Sarasin, which however 
deals less fully with the sociology than with the physical 
anthropology of the Veddas^. 

Three articles by Dr L. Rutimeyer, published in 1903 ^ 
describe the author's impressions of parties of Danigala and 
Henebedda Veddas who visited him at Bibile Rest House and 
review the then existing condition of our knowledge concerning 
the ethnology of the Veddas, finishing with a summary of the 
views expressed by the Sarasins concerning the relationship of 
the Veddas to other races. 

As this volume will scarcely touch on physical anthropology 
we now give a short account of the chief physical characteristics 

^ Taprobanian, 1887, Vol. I, p. 175. 

2 It must not be thought, however, that the period from 1863 to 1893 was 
absolutely barren ; Mr B. L. Hartshorne published a paper dealing with the village 
Veddas of Uva Bintenne in the Fort7tightly Revitnu in 1876, and papers on the Veddas 
continued to appear in Xhe Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. 
One paper, that by C. Stevens (Proc. Roy. As. Soc. Ceylon Branch, 1886), must 
be regarded as absolutely misleadmg, and the value of many of these communications 
is reduced by the absence of data concerning the origin and mode of collection of the 
information given. Thus in Volume vii, i88r, Mr Louis De Zoysa published a 
number of Vedda songs which would be of great value if a single word were said of 
where, how, or by whom they were collected. This literature will be found in a 
bibliography given by the Sarasins on p. 594 of their work. 

"* Die Nilgalaweddas in Ceylon. Globus 1903. 


of the purer Veddas in order that the reader may appreciate the 
bearing of what will be said in other parts of the book concerning 
the different groups of Veddas we visited. 

The general appearance of the Veddas will be most readily- 
appreciated by examining the photographs of pure, or nearly 
pure-blooded Veddas reproduced in Plates II and III. The 
first of these represents four men of Danigala and a half-breed 
boy. The oldest man is Kaira (i), the " patriarch " or senior of 
the Danigala groups Of the three other men, his sons, the 
two in the foreground are Randu Wanniya (2), nearest to the 
pole supporting the hut, and Tuta (3). Plate III is a group 
of Henebedda Veddas, the relatively tall man with his hands 
hanging by his sides is the half-breed Appuhami (4), and the 
taller of the two men with axes over their shoulders, the 
Henebedda shaman^, is also a half-breed. The man to the right 
of the shaman with bow and arrows in his hands is Kaira (5), 
the youth in front of him is Poromala (6), on whose left hand 
Tuta (7) kneels by the side of Kalua who is in the same 
position. The four men between Appuhami and the shaman 
all appear to be fairly typical Veddas ; the man next to 
Appuhami is Poromala of Bingoda, upon whose right stand 
Handuna (8) and Randu Wanniya (9). 

In stature the Veddas are short : the Sarasins measured 
24 men of the " Central Vedda district " whom they considered 
pure-blooded and obtained an average of I'SSS mm. (6o| inches) 
with a minimum of i'46o mm. (571 inches) and a maximum 
of I '600 mm. (63 inches). There was only one man of i'6oo mm. 
and 20 of the 24 men measured were below i'S7S mm. (62 inches). 
Eleven Vedda women of the same district gave an average 

1 Two larger photographs of this man as he appeared some 15 years ago are given 
by the Sarasins (Plate VII, figure 10), who consider him a "tolerably pure-blooded 
Vedda." The numbers in brackets refer to the genealogy on p. 60. ' 

^ Shaman is the title which the Tunguz give to their "spirit-conjurors." In 
Hohsoii Jobson (1903) it is said that the terms shaman and shamanism " are applied 
in modern times to superstitions of the kind that connects itself with exorcism and 

'devil-dancing' as their most prominent characteristic The characteristic of 

shamanism is the existence of certain soothsayers or medicine-men, who profess a 
special art of dealing with the mischievous spirits who are supposed to produce 
illness and other calamities, and who invoke these spirits and ascertain the means of 
appeasing them in trance produced by fantastic ceremonies and convulsive dancings."' 

Plate II 



Danigaia Veddas on look-out rock 





- ^H 














Plate IV 



Poromala (Walaha), headman of the Henebedda Veddas 

Plate V 

Sita Wanniya of Henebedda 

Plate VI 

Sita Wanniya of Henebedda 

Plate VII 

Poromala, a Henebedda youth 


height of r433 mm. (56I inches) with a minimum pf 1-355 ^^^ 
(53| inches) and a maximum of r5oo mm. (59 inches). The 
median of the men was 1-545 n^rn- (6of inches),, that of the 
women 1-435 mm. (56^ inches). Although Veddas do not 
become unduly fat they have, when well nourished, sturdy 
rather than slight figures, and a few of the older men may 
present rather prominent abdomens. The hair is wavy, some- 
times almost curly, and in old age not rarely turns white. There 
is little hair upon the bodies of the purer Veddas and the growth 
of hair upon the face can best be described as slight or moderate, 
usually consisting of a rather thin moustache and sparse goatee 

The skin of the Veddas varies enormously, that of the face 
being generally somewhat lighter than that of the skin of the 
chest. But apart from these minor variations, the skin colour 
of any series of individuals will be found to vary from a deep 
brown-black, through various shades of bronze, in some of 
which a definite reddish tone can be detected, to a colour which 
can only be called yellowish-brown. A medium brown-black 
is perhaps the commonest, but apart from the darkest brown- 
black every colour, even the lightest, occurs in individuals whose 
general appearance suggests that they are pure-, or almost pure- 
blooded Veddas, and we have no doubt that the bronze shades 
occur quite as often among pure-blooded Veddas as among the 
less pure. Indeed our experience suggests that the occurrence 
of a skin colour of the darker shades of brown-black may be 
taken as evidence of miscegenation. The eyes are always dark 
brown. The head is long and narrow, the Sarasins give the 
average cephalic index of 17 male skulls as 70-5 (minimum 64-9 
and maximum 75*9, median 71). The length-height index of 
the same skulls is 73 (minimum 65-4, maximum 79, median 73-4). 
Generally the face is long rather than broad, but in this respect 
there is considerable variation. Twelve skulls gave an average 
facial index of 88*2 (minimum yyz, maximum 992, median 88-5), 
but ten of the skulls were over 85, the two lowest both giving an 
index of about yy. 

The brow ridges are well marked so that the eyes appear 
deeply set or even sunken. The chin is somewhat pointed and 

s. V. 2 


is rarely prominent. The lips, though well developed, are not 
tumid (except sometimes in the young); sometimes the mouth 
is rather flat. This when accompanied by moderately prominent 
cheek bones gives some faces an expression of considerable 
energy. The jaw is not prognathous, the nostrils are moderately 
broad, the root of the nose is depressed but never flattened 
to any considerable degree. The average of the nasal indices of 
17 skulls gave the figure 527 (minimum 43"3, maximum 62-2, 
median 52-3), which is just short of the index (53) at which 
platyrrhiny is commonly assumed to begin. Nevertheless we 
believe that the Veddas may more fairly be classed as mesorrhine 
than platyrrhine, for certainly the impression made on us by the 
living was that they were not specially broad-nosed. The 
capacity of the 18 male skulls described by the Sarasins varies 
from 1012 to 1502 c.c. with an average of 1278 c.c. : none of the 
three female Vedda skulls from the inner Vedda district have 
a capacity of less than 11 50 c.c, though there is a skull of an 
adult Vedda woman in the Museum of the Royal College of 
Surgeons with a capacity of only 960 c.c. 

Summing up the physical characters to which we have 
briefly referred we may define the Veddas as a short, wavy- 
haired, dolichocephalic race, with moderately long faces and 
moderately broad noses. Expressing the results of measurements 
taken by the Sarasins we may say that chaemaeprosopes and 
leptoprosopes occur in about equal numbers, and that the Veddas 
are mesorrhine or present a low grade of platyrrhiny. 

The latest Vedda literature of any importance is a volume 
published by the Sarasins which records the work they did 
in Ceylon during 1907 when they established the existence 
of a stone age upon the island. This fact had not been realised 
before, though two naturalists, Mr E. E. Green and Mr J. Pole, 
both old residents, had already collected and recognised as 
artifacts the quartz implements which were the typical product 
of the stone age in Ceylon, and which, as pointed out by the 
Sarasins, are most reasonably to be attributed to the Veddas. 
A number of rock shelters were explored ; these were situated 
at Kataragam in the south of the island where no Veddas now 
exist, and in other parts of Uva, in the present Vedda country. 


Not all the caves investigated yielded evidence of prehistoric 
habitation, but from a certain number were obtained quartz, 
chert and shell implements which put the matter beyond doubt 
and conclusively show that Ceylon formerly possessed a stone 
age. The greater part of the volume is taken up by an account 
of prehistoric quartz and chert artifacts, and the excellent 
reproductions given by the authors show that the quartz imple- 
ments they discovered belong to the same type as those found 
by ourselves and described elsewhere ^ 

But in addition the Sarasins found hammer stones, a few 
pieces of worked bone, and a series of shells of the large land 
snail {Helix phoenix), the curve of each shell being occupied by 
a circular hole large enough to allow of its sharp edge being 
used as a cutting tool-. 

Plate VIII shows a number of typical Vedda implements. 
All are of quartz except No. 2 which is of chert. Nos. i and 3 
are worked on one side only, the unworked side being shown in 
order to illustrate the well-marked bulb of percussion which 
distinguishes many of the specimens. The general charac- 
teristics of these implements are so well shown in the plate that 
a description in detail is not necessary. Attention may, however, 
be called to figures 6, 8 and 9 ; the first of these shows a large 
part of the outer surface of the quartz pebble from which it was 
made. No. 8 belongs to a type of which numerous examples 
occur among European stone implements, this specimen is 
thicker than is usual and measures 15 mm. from one surface 
to the other. No. 9 can scarcely have been intended for 
anything but an arrow head, two views are given of this 
remarkable implement which comes from a cave on the 
Scarborough Estate at Maskeliya, and for a drawing of which 
I am indebted to Mi Pole. No. 2 is of chert and was found 
in the same cave; two views of this implement are given. The 
localities from which the other specimens were collected were as 
follows : No. I was found by Mr Pole at Maskeliya, No. 3 we 
picked up at Bandaravvela, No. 4, was collected by Mr Green 

^ C. G. Seligmann, "Quartz Implements from Ceylon," Man, 1908, 63. 
- These shells in fact constitute a primitive plane or spokeshave and resemble 
those found in Queensland and some parts of South America at the present day. 

2 — 2 


near Peradeniya, Nos. 5, 6, 7, and S are in I\Ir Pole's collection 
and were found by him near Maskeliya. 

The questions raised by the discovery of implements such as 
those figured are so many and interesting that no excuse is 
needed for considering some of the issues at length. The data 
are the caves excavated b>- the Sarasins in which prehistoric 
implements were found, and our own work in Ceylon including 
the partial excavation of the Bendiyagalge caves which are 
described and figured in Chapter IV. 

In the first place if we accept the suggestion that Veddas, 
the ancestors of those still existing, are responsible for these 
implements, their distribution will give valuable information as 
to the former extent of the Vedda country. It may be said 
at once that the distribution of these implements, as far as it 
is at present known, agrees with our historic knowledge of the 
extent of the Vedda domain, and adds to it the heights of Uva 
up to about 4000 feet (Bandarawela), the country around Kandy, 
and the hill country to the south (Gampola) and in the neighbour- 
hood of Adam's Peak (^Maskeli\-a)\ And since they have been 
found in the neighbourhood of Matale they add an interesting- 
confirmation to what ]\Ir Parker has said on p. 9 concerning; 
the former occurrence of Veddas in this part of the country. 
Within the last few months the range of these implements 
has been extended south to the neighbourhood of Ratnapura,. 
where a number of excellent specimens were found by the late 
James Parsons, who wrote to us concerning them as follows : 
"I dug out a cave in Sabaragamuwa m a ravine to the north-east 
of Ratnapura which was most interesting. I have full notes 
of the cave — briefly it is sufficiently high above the stream 
for it to have been impossible for it to enter the cave in 

1 We consulted the late James Parsons, Director of the Mineral Survey, concerning- 
the geoloy;ical formation of the rounded grassy hills near Bandarawela called /<7/(z;/(7, 
upon which we had independently collected many quartz artifacts. He informed us- 
that the capping of these hills usually consists of more or less disintegrated granular 
quartz rock, but that this did not seem to contain nearly enough clear quartz to- 
produce the flakes even as a "survival of the fittest " in the process of disintegration. 
Parsons did however find several water-worn pebbles, all broken, but there were 
not enough to lead him to think they represented a capping gravel, although in the 
case of the Peradeniya locality there is no doubt that there is river gravel on the 

Plate \'III 

Quartz and chert implements 


geologically recent times. To a depth of 8 feet the cave is 
full of black earth containing many shells of the big tree snail 
mixed with the river shells, bellan {Paludina ceylonica), in such 
abundance that these shells are now occasionally collected and 
burnt for chunam. A shell is said to occur that is found only in 
the river at Ratnapura, but I did not succeed in finding it. The 
tradition is that the molluscs were used as food by ' an ancient 
Tamil people.' The shells are not calcined, but with themi were 
a number of flakes of clear quartz — mostly made from pebbles, 
some of them the best I have seen and undoubtedly neolithic... 
I do not think there can be any reasonable doubt about them. 
At a depth of five feet very rotten fragments of the top of a 
human skull and the region of the ear besides bits of long bones 
and some pieces of chert not obviously worked. At the 
entrance of the cave there is a sort of dyke thrown up, which 
is full of flakes some of which appear to be ground and 

Parsons' premature death renders it unlikely that a full 
account of this find will ever be published, but owing to the 
kindness of Mrs Parsons we have been able to examine a number 
of the implements excavated by her husband. These include 
a number of cores, worked flakes and scrapers, and one flake of 
chert showing a bulb of percussion, but none of the specimens 
that I have handled show any signs of polishing^ 

^ Since the above was written we have received the following account of the cave 
from Mr W. D. Holland on whose property we understand the cave is situated. 
"The cave is situated about a mile from my bungalow on the N. bank of a small 
stream and some lo to 15 feet above present water level. The cave has been formed 
by the weathering out of a soft core of rock from gneiss of the ordinary kind and 
may have been assisted by the action of the stream when running at a higher level. 
The cave is a fairly large one and would accommodate several families, say 15 or 
20 individuals, and is quite dry inside. It appears to have been banked up in front, 
but this may have been caused by debris falling from the cliff above. The strike 
I believe 'coincides with the stream S.W. N.W. We dug a pit about 5 feet in 
diameter and about 7 or 8 feet deep, and came upon a lot of shells of the belan 
or water snail and some bones : a much shattered portion of the latter we thought to 
be a portion of a human skull, and Mr Parsons subsequently informed me by letter 
that this had been confirmed in Colombo.... The quartz flakes were not found in 
the cave, but on the entrance bank where they had been exposed by the drip from the 
rock above washing the earth away and leaving them. The old inliabitants would 
naturally work at the entrance for the sake of light. I know only of this one cave in 
this neighbourhood. The stream flows S.\Y. to the Kaluganga (eventually), and 


With regard to the distribution in time of these implements, 
it seems that they are of respectable, but of no great antiquity. 
They are found abundantly on the surface of the open grassy 
patanas at Bandarawela and also on the surface of the soil near 
Kandy and scattered everywhere in the neighbourhood of 
Maskeliya over the ground planted with tea. Considering that 
Ceylon is a well vegetated country with an abundant rainfall, 
these facts do not point to any high antiquity even if it is 
allowed that in the tea country the cultivation of a century 
has lowered the level by 9 to 12 inches, the estimate given by 
planters whom we questioned. 

The evidence from the caves seems to point in the same 
direction. The Bendiyagalge caves present well marked drip 
ledges and many signs such as the steps (Plate IX) hewn in the 
rock, between the upper and- lower caves, which show that they 
were used by the Sinhalese during the efflorescence of Buddhism 
before, or about the beginning of, the present era. This date is 
made perfectly certain by the occurrence in one of the caves, 
a few miles from Bendiyagalge and used by the same Veddas, 
of a typical drip ledge associated with an inscription of which 
Mr H. C. P. Bell, archaeological commissioner, says, " The 
Brahmi [characters] are of the oldest type, therefore B.C." This 
inscription has been read by the same authority as, — "(cave of) 
the chief. ..son of the chief Vela." It is therefore clear that 
these caves were at one time — about 2000 years ago — inhabited 

rises about \\ miles (bee line) to the east in the range which forms the watershed of 
the Kahiganga and Wallawe rivers. The elevation is approximately 1900 feet and 
the cave faces S. (about). The Sinhalese have used this cave for a mine for the 
shells of the belan, which they burn into lime to eat with betel leaf. A large number of 
shells must have been removed but notwithstanding there must still be an enormous 
quantity left. We were also informed by the natives that there are two kinds of 
belan shells found in the cave, only one of which is found in the neighbouring streams 
and the other must have been brought from some distance in the Ratnapura direction, 
15 or 20 miles, and they inferred that these had been brought by whoever had 
lived in the cave, presumably for food. We also found some fragments of pottery 
(chatties) with the quartz flakes, which the Sinhalese said were of a thinner kind not 
made now : these however were no doubt left by Sinhalese gemmers or refugees at a 
later date, as caves in the jungle are still used by them if no houses are near. The 
rainfall of the district is heavy, some 200 inches. The cave would I think well repay 
a thorough exploration, but it should be undertaken by someone who has experience 
in such work and would be expensive." 

Plate IX 

Steps cut in the rock at Bendiyagalge 


by Sinhalese who, as the results of excavation showed, had left 
behind them abundant evidence of their occupation of the cave. 
This will be clear from the following short account of our partial 
exploration of these caves. 

The nature of its bottom made the lower cave the easier 
to examine, accordingly a longitudinal trench about a foot wide 
was dug in the long axis of the lower cave. The first six inches 
yielded fragments of pottery and a number of bones, a much 
rusted catty, and an areca nut cutter, both of the pattern in 
common use. A good many fragments of charcoal were found 
in the upper 12 to 18 inches, and several pieces of iron slag — 
perhaps six in all — as well as a number of land shells lying 
in groups, were found at a depth of from i to 2 feet. Bones 
and fragments of pottery continued to occur until a depth of 
about 2 feet was reached. Massive rock, which was taken to 
be the bed rock of the cave, was reached at about 2^ feet, and 
within a few inches of this were found many fragments of 
quartz — some milky, some ice-clear, some faintly opalescent, 
some smoky and some amethystine. A few of these were as 
big as hens' eggs, the majority varied from the size of an apricot 
to a haricot bean, some were even smaller. From the large 
number of pieces of quartz — nearly 300 — collected at the depth 
mentioned from this trench, and a small trench driven at right 
angles to it, as well as the absence of pieces of country rock, 
there can be no doubt that these pieces of quartz were brought 
to the site in which they were found by man. They were not 
water- worn, and the variety of colour and opacity they presented 
make it certain that they had not weathered out in situ, in spite 
of the fact that quartz (but not as far as we could determine 
ice-clear quartz) occurs in segregation masses in the gneissic 
rock of the neighbourhood. Further, when all the fragments 
were carefully washed and examined it was found that some 
three per cent, of the pieces of quartz obtained from this cave 
showed signs of working. Additional proof that the fragments 
of quartz had been brought by man to the site on which they 
were found were afforded by some irregular digging done in 
the upper cave formed by the same rock mass as the lower cave, 
and separated from it only by a few feet. The floor of this 



cave was so rocky that a regular trench could not be dug, but 

a number of holes, the largest perhaps 6 feet by 4 feet, were dug 

down to what was apparently the country rock at the bottom of 

the cave. Fragments of pottery and the bones of animals were 

found in plenty in these holes, but altogether they yielded only- 

four pieces of quartz, namely two water-worn pebbles and two 

broken pieces of clear glassy quartz. As in the lower cave 

a few small pieces of slag were found some 18 inches to 2 feet 

below the level of the surface. Most of the fragments of pottery 

found in both caves in the first 2 feet are decorated and are 

certainly not the remains of Vedda pots, and since fragments of 

iron slag are found associated with this pottery, the deposit 

in which it occurs must be regarded as formed not earlier than 

the Sinhalese occupation of the cave. As already stated massive 

rock was found six inches lower, and from these last few inches 

were obtained quartz implements and many unworked pieces 

of quartz. Clearly then the people responsible for these occupied 

the caves before the Sinhalese, but there is no obvious reason 

for holding that the makers of these implements antedated the 

Sinhalese by any long period. All that can be affirmed is that 

no pottery was found associated with the quartz fragments 

either by the Sarasins or by ourselves, but this is no sign of 

great age considering the extreme roughness of the pots made 

by the Veddas at the present day, and the fact that the art 

is believed, doubtless correctly, to have been adopted from the 

Sinhalese. One of us has already stated in Alan his beliefs 

that these implements are neolithic and this is also the opinion 

of Mr Reginald Smith. Considering the refractory nature of 

the material, and allowing for the fact that it does not occur 

in large masses, the better formed implements must be regarded 

as neolithic in type, and in this connection it is significant that 

the bones found associated with the implements by the Sarasins 

are those of existing forms. These authors, however, believe 

that the implements they found are paleolithic, arguing that 

the absence of pottery and stone adze heads proves that they 

cannot be neolithic, though they apparently admit that in many 

respects the best implements approach neolithic forms. 

The mention of these stone implements naturally brings 


US to the consideration of the advent of metal in Ceylon. We 
know of no fact indicating that this was not worked in the 
island before the advent of Vijaya, on the contrary, Vijaya and 
his band were obviously only one of many parties of settlers 
who came from India in prehistoric times. Perhaps the record 
in the Mahavansa of the coming of Buddha to Mahayangana 
refers to one such immigrant party, and the legend of Rama 
may with even more probability be taken to refer to an invasion 
from the mainland. It is quite certain that Vijaya found some 
sort of stable political organization on his arrival in the island 
to which he came after his followers had been repulsed from 
Jambudipa on account of their lawless character. The account 
in the Mahavansa by no means suggests that Ceylon was 
absolutely terra incognita, and the readiness with which com- 
munication with the mainland was kept up, and the facility with 
which other bands of adventurers arrive, confirms this. 

Although these bands probably came from the valley of 
the Ganges there is evidence that there were highly civilised 
maritime powers in Southern India 2000 years ago. The 
Mahavansa states in the most matter of fact way that Vijaya 
sought and obtained the hand of a Hindu bride, the daughter of 
the king of an important Tamil state, and nothing is said as to 
difficulties encountered by his ambassadors in proceeding to the 
court of the Pandyan king, or by the princess in coming to 
Ceylon. Again a Pandyan king twice sent ambassadors to 
Rome to Augustus Caesar, B.C. 26 and 20, and Strabo records 
that the annual exports to India reached the large sum of 
55,000,000 sesterces (nearly ^^"500,000)^ There is therefore every 
reason to believe that the early colonists from India were metal 
workers. Indeed, the matter becomes almost a certainty when 
it is remembered that no authenticated polished stone adze 
or axe head has been discovered in Ceylon, although many 

// ^ For these facts I am indebted to a work The Tamils eighteen hundred years ago, 
by Mr V. Kanakasabhai Pillai (Madras and Bangalore, 1904). Mr Filial further 
states (p. 3) that from a "careful study of ancient Tamil poems" he is "led to think 
that some of the earliest works were undoubtedly composed more than two thousand 
years ago, and that the Tamil people acquired wealth and civilization at this early 
period by their commercial intercourse with foreign nations such as the Arabs, Greeks, 
Romans and Japanese." 


ancient sites have been excavated in certain districts, and 
gemming operations involving the digging out and examination 
of thousands of tons of gravel have taken place. 

Probably the Nagas referred to in the Mahavansa are an 
immigrant race, and Mr Parker suggests that they may have 
been an offshoot of the Nayars of South-west India. Whether 
this is so or not the Nagas, according to Sinhalese historical 
works, drove the aborigines out of North and West Ceylon and 
" all Ceylon down to about Madawachchiya was known as 
Nagadipa (the Island of the Nagas) for many centuries after 
Christ^" Further, the compiler of the Mahavansa who wrote 
about the end of the fifth century A.D. relates that after 
appearing to the " yakkhas " at Mahayangana, Buddha visited 
Nagadipa where he composed a quarrel between Mahodara 
and Culodara a maternal uncle and nephew concerning the 
ownership of a "gem-set throne." It is further recorded that 
"the maternal uncle of Mahodara Mani Akkhika, the Naga 
king of Kalyani " near Colombo, was visited by Buddha at 
Kalyani on which account the Kalyani dagaba was subsequently 

^ This information is taken from one of Mr Parker's letters. 

- The general tendency at the present time seems to be to regard the Nagas 
as mythical beings connected with the water. We cannot regard this belief as 
well founded, although it is only necessary to look through Brigade Surgeon 
C. F. Oldham's book (The Sun and the Serpent, London, 1905), to appreciate how 
many Nagas are regarded as demigods or heroes at the present day. But considering 
the extensive distribution of ancestor worship throughout India, this cannot be taken 
as an argument against the existence of human beings called Nagas, who must be 
distinguished from their deified dead. 

There are at the present day powerful tribes called Nagas in Assam yet, as pointed 
out by Brigade Surgeon Oldham, the folklore of Northern India is full of legends 
connected with the supernatural powers of the Nagas. "These demigods are still 
propitiated, before any other deity, when the country is suffering from drought or 
excessive rain. And tradition says that human sacrifices were common, on such 
occasions, in days gone by." {Op. cit. pp. 49, 50.) 

Burnouf (quoted by Oldham, op. cit. pp. 146, 147), records that in the time 
of Asoka the Nagas were numerous and powerful, for when "this king wishing to 
divide the relics of Buddha amongst the new stupas which he had built, went with an 
army to remove the relics from the old stupa at Ramagrama, the Nagas refused 
to allow him to do so. And Asoka, powerful as he was, did not persist. 

"In the Vishnu Purana (iv, xxiv, 479, cited by Oldham, p. 147), it is said that 
nine Nagas will reign in Padmavati, Kantipura, and Mathara," and Oldham quotes 
Sir A. Cunningham t- the effect that "these serpent chiefs, whose names he gives 


All these facts suggest that metal must have been known in 
Ceylon before the invasion by Vijaya, and once introduced, 
there is no doubt that within a few years metal would have been 
distributed throughout the whole island. 

Although the Veddas are all agreed that they were never 
otherwise in habits and culture than they are at the present 
time, every Sinhalese in the Vedirata believes that they once 
had great, powerful and wealthy chiefs and that they possessed 
hoards of gold and gems. Nevill, who takes somewhat their 
view, says : " Sinhalese, who are old and intelligent, and who 
have lived among Vaeddas, all agree that in ancient times 
Vaeddas...were often very rich and powerful. In such cases 
their wealth was put into gold cooking vessels, and strings of 
gems, etc., for their women. Poorer men had copper cooking 
vessels. The last of these gold vessels were lost by them during 
the long guerilla wars between the Kandians of Velasse and 
Dumbara, and Europeans, especially the English. The tradition 
is positive, and seems reliable. Nigala Banda, a splendid old 
Kandian chief, now Ratemahatmaya of Lower Bintenne, whose 
ancestors have lived amongst the Vaeddas of Nilgala from time 
immemorial, assures me there is no mistake in this, but their 
former use of gold cooking vessels is clearly true, and that 
people now-a-days have no idea how proud and powerful they 
were, until the inaha kaeraella (the long war with the English)." 
We could discover no reason for this belief, which seems 
to be effectually disposed of by the evidence of the very old 
Sinhalese informant whom we quote at the beginning of the 
next chapter. It is, however, firmly rooted in the minds of 
the majority of the Kandyan Sinhalese and is probably in part 
due to confusion between Veddas and Kandyans of mixed 
Vedda descent who until recently called themselves Veddas 
or were known as Veddas to their neighbours. Many such 
men living in the Vedirata took care to keep in touch with the 

from their coins, held most of the country between the Jumna and the Narbada ; and 
that they ruled as independent princes during the first two centuries of the Christian 
era" {loc. cit.). Mr Vincent Smith points out that the defeat of a Naga chief, 
Ganapati Naga, is recorded on one of the pillars set up by Samudra Gupta who 
reigned in the fourth century a.d. {Early History of India, 1908, p. 268). 


Veddas, who to some extent looked upon them as chiefs and 
protectors, and to whom they made presents of game and 
honey. Another factor leading to the belief in the former glory 
of the Veddas is the persistence in popular form of the legend 
of Vijaya and Kuweni, which though absolutely unknown to the 
Veddas is firmly established among the Sinhalese. 



We propose to treat the Veddas under three headings : — 

(i) Veddas. 

(ii) Village Veddas. 

(iii) Coast Veddas. 

Although it may not be easy in every case to say into which 
group a given person falls, and although the proposed classifi- 
cation rests on no natural or known physical basis, it seems 
that at the present day the Veddas fall into these three groups 
characterised by different sociological features. The term 
"Rock" or "Jungle" Vedda will be avoided; it has been 
applied by some authors to the wilder specimens of that class 
which we propose to call simply Veddas. 

The coast Veddas are briefly described in Chapter Xll. ; 
they live in scattered villages on the east coast and are chiefly 
to be found north of Batticaloa. They have much Tamil blood 
in their veins, and though often taller than pure Veddas, some 
still retain an appearance which suggests their Vedda origin. 
This is far more marked in the males than in the females, and it 
appeared to us that any of the latter might have been local 
Tamils, whereas some of the men clearly differed from the 
surrounding population. 

Before giving an account of the present condition of the 
different Vedda communities, we propose to give the substance 
of a number of conversations with a remarkable old Kandyan 
who in his boyhood, youth and manhood was closely associated 
with the Veddas of the Eastern Province, and whose memory 
certainly goes back for 80 or 90 years. In order to make his 



account intelligible we must anticipate certain later chapters to 
the extent of defining the terms wanige and yaka, that is we 
must refer briefly to the essential features of the Vedda social 
system and religion. 

Every Vedda belongs to a wariige or clan, as the term may 
be translated, and among a large number of the Vedda com- 
munities still existing, exogamy is the absolute rule. Further, 
with exogamy is associated descent in the maternal line, so that 
the fundamentals of the social system of the Veddas may, 
perhaps, be summed up as a clan organization with female 
descent. There is no evidence, as far as we can determine, of 
any dual organization of the clans, but perhaps they had 
originally a territorial distribution. Ignoring for a moment 
such debatable matters, the Vedda clans are : — 
(i) Morane zvariige. 

(2) Unapane waruge. 

(3) Namadewa or Nabudan waruge. 

(4) Aembela waruge. 

(5) Uru waruge. 

(6) Tala zvaruge. 

(7) A number of other so-called zvaruge of minor strength 
and importance, which perhaps may be local groups that have 
forgotten their origin and have assumed a name (sometimes 
obviously a place-name) as a convenience. 

Turning now to the Vedda religion the word yaka (feminine 
yakini, plural yaku) is used to denote the spirits of the dead, and 
since the Vedda religion is essentially a cult of the dead, it is 
not surprising that the propitiation of the spirits of dead 
relatives, called the Nae Yaku, is at once its most obvious and 
important feature. With this is associated the cult of the 
spirits of certain long dead Veddas who may be regarded as 
legendary heroes. The most important of these is Kande Yaka, 
the yaka of Kande Wanniya, a celebrated hunter who lived 
many generations ago and whose assistance is invoked for good 
hunting. Kande Yaka especially helps in the tracking of 
sambur and spotted deer, and with him is often associated 
Bilindi Yaka, the yaka of his younger brother Bilindi. When 
a deer has been killed the head is set aside, and with rice and 


coconut milk (when procurable) dedicated to Kande Yaka, after 
which it is eaten with the rice. An essentially similar ceremony 
often spoken of by the same name {kirikorahd), but in which no 
meat is offered, is held after a death in order to propitiate the 
spirit of the dead man. The majority of Veddas believe that 
the Nae Yaku go to Kande Yaka, and become in some sense 
his attendants, and Kande Yaka, sometimes accompanied by 
Bilindi Yaka, is generally invoked at the beginning of the 
Nae Yaku ceremony. It was stated more than once that the 
Nae Yaku could not come to the offering unless accompanied 
by Kande Yaka, who was even spoken of as bringing the Nae 
Yaku. Some of our informants also said that the spirit of the 
deceased resorted to Kande Yaka and obtained his permission 
to accept offerings from his living relatives, in return for which 
the Nae Yaka would assist or injure them according to their 
behaviour, so that Kande Yaka, besides being of the greatest 
assistance in hunting, has also become the Lord of the Dead. 
The Kandyan already mentioned, whose full title is 
Karagahavella Adenayaka Mudiyanselage Tissahami, visited 
us at Bandaraduwa ; he lived at Bakiyella some ten miles from 
our camp. Mr Bibile, who was distantly related to the old 
man, told us that he must be nearly a hundred years old, since 
he had been brought to the wild country of the Eastern Province 
by his mother during the rebellion of 1818, his father having 
fallen in the fighting. His hair, of which he retained a fair 
quantity, was absolutely white and worn short, his complexion 
was pale with age, he had a slight unilateral facial paralysis and 
he walked with the aid of a stick, his back being bowed and 
both knees somewhat flexed ; but he was withal an extra- 
ordinarily active old man, extremely intelligent and with an 
excellent memory, the play of the muscles of his face showing 
how well he realised the import of the questions addressed to 
him and how much they interested him. Further, his frank 
replies when he did not understand a question and the emphatic 
manner in which he delivered his answers carried conviction of 
the value of his evidence, and we believe that no one who 
listened to the old man would have considered him other than 
a good witness. 



There were both " wild " and " village " Veddas even in the 
days of his youth, and the only difficulty experienced with the 
old man was in keeping the two classes perfectly distinct in his 
mind. The following facts were elicited in the course of three 
interviews, each lasting somewhat less than an hour. He 
stated that he was just able to walk when he came to the 
Eastern Province, and that as he grew up he spent much of his 
time with the Veddas hunting and collecting honey. The 
Veddas of those days were a merry people, and with a most 
eloquent gesture the old man showed how they would throw dry 
leaves into the air and shout and dance for happiness ; he said 
also that they were absolutely truthful. Every Vedda carried a 
bow and arrows and an axe ; more arrows than one were 
carried, but it was not clear that they only carried two ; it 
seemed that tiidadi, a word that the old man said was used to 
describe the number of arrows carried, may have meant a small 
quantity or may have been a hunting term corresponding to 
" brace " or " leash." The old man had seen Veddas shoot lying 
on their backs and holding the bow with their feet, but this was 
only for amusement and to show their skill, no serious shooting 
was done in this way. The feathers of peacocks, herons and 
hawks were especially used in feathering arrows ; any of these 
birds would be shot with an ordinary arrow, and peacock was 
eaten as was jungle fowl, though no one would eat porcupine or 
buffalo ; for these abstinences he could give no reason. Traps 
were not used. Fish were eaten, being caught by poisoning the 
water of pools with the bark of dauiba, nahapata, piiselpata 
(? Entada scandens) and the fruit of tinibiri {Diospyros etnbry- 
opteris) and kiikuruman {Adenanthera bicolor). Pots and bark 
cloth bags were made and betel pouches of monkey skin, though 
even then some village Veddas had cloth betel bags, and these 
occasionally reached the wilder Veddas. Among the village 
Veddas both sexes bored their ears and the women wore ivory 
studs in them ; whether the women of the Vv^ilder groups bored 
their ears and wore these ornaments was not clear, certainly 
the men did not. Fire was obtained from two pieces of wood 
by drilling. 

The wilder Veddas of those days built no houses but lived 


entirely in caves ; trading places called ivadia near the caves, 
but out of sight of them, under a tree or rock, were used for 
bartering, where all strangers would stop and shout and then 
wait until their calls had been answered from the caves. 

The Veddas were extremely jealous of their women, and 
intimate as our informant was with them as a young man, he 
was never taken to their caves while their women were there. 
The wilder Veddas could not count, at least they used no 
numerals beyond one, the method being to say " one " " and 
one " " and one," etc., probably putting a piece of stick on the 
ground or making a mark for each unit mentioned. Both hands 
with fingers extended were held up for ten, or perhaps for any 
number above six. The 'silent trade" was only a tradition 
even among the wildest Veddas and had probably been extinct 
in this part of the country for at least two generations. The 
wilder Veddas had no areca nuts but chewed the bark of trees 
mixed with lime which they obtained by burning land shells 
which they called wantako. 

Cousin marriage took place, the unions being arranged by 
the parents of the young people. Honey, dried venison and 
flesh of the monitor lizard were brought by the young man to 
the girl's father\ who would call his daughter and give her in 
charge of her husband, for whom she would immediately make 
a waist string {dia lamnva). She made no pretence of running 
away from her husband. Widows married an unmarried brother 
of their first husband if this were possible, in any case they 
might remarry and their sexual morality was as high as that of 
unmarried girls. 

The wilder Veddas of the district belonged to the Morane 
and Unapane %uaruge\ each clan had its own set of caves, 
though, since their members intermarried, there could have been 
no rigid exclusiveness about the arrangement. There were 
people of Uru waruge at a little distance; their status was lower 
than that of the Morane and Unapane folk, neither of whom 
would marry into this clan, and it was even said that the men of 

1 It was not clear whether more than one formal present of food was made; 
it must be remembered that a youth always gives part of any important kill to 
his potential father-in-law, cf. p. 67. 

s. V. 3 



Uru wartege should carry game and honey for the men of Morane 
and Unapane. 

Some of the village Veddas of those days had cloth, and 
when dancing to the yaku they wore the long cloth garment 
called haiigalla ; the wilder Veddas had no cloth and wore 
leaves, but it was not clear whether they had not also a certain 
amount of bark cloth which was their ordinary covering, and 
leaves may have been worn in addition when they invoked the 

The old man knew of the custom of a man keeping a piece 
of human liver in his betel pouch ; it was universal and in his 
young days every Vedda desired to have a piece. Strangers, 
even Veddas, who intruded on the hunting grounds would be 
killed and their liver taken, no other part of the dead man 
being used, and the custom gave rise neither to warfare nor to 

Caves in which a death occurred were deserted, the corpse 
being covered with leaves ; perhaps men very near dissolution 
were left before death had actually occurred, but this did not 
seem certain. Bones found in the cave when the group returned 
to it after an interval of some ten or twelve years were thrown 
away quite carelessly. The spirits of the dead became the Nae 
Yaku who, with Kande Yaka and Bilindi Yaka, gave game and 
prosperity. The kirikoraJia ceremony was performed for the 
Nae Yaku, and adiikkn (cooked food), which even in the old days 
consisted of coconut and rice, was offered to them. The wilder 
Veddas gave nothing to the Buddhist priests and made no offer- 
ings at shrines, nor did they know the Kataragam God, Kanda 
Swami, though the village Veddas worshipped him and knew 
that VValliame had been taken to wife by him, and honey was 
presented to the goddess at certain shrines, especially one at 
Kokote Sila, frequented by the village Veddas. 

A few of the village Veddas would dance for the Sinhalese 
in order to protect their cattle, bring prosperity to their 
villages, and secure them from epidemics; they would dance 
kolamaduwa which the old man pointed out was derived from a 

^ Cf. p. 213. 

- For details of this custom see Chapter vni. 


shorter ceremony ruwela, this being an older name than 

It appeared that the invocations at present in use among the 
Kovil Vanamai Veddas were those used in the old man's youth, 
for although he had not, as he stated (truthfully we believe), 
been closely associated with the Veddas for many years he 
recognised a number of Vedda invocations which were sung to 
him, as identical with those sung in his youth, and named the 
occasions on which each was used. Maligi was recognised as 
sung when honey was taken ; the invocation at the beginning 
of the kirikoraha ceremony (cf p. 285) was promptly named, 
and the occasions of its use pointed out, but the charm used 
when driving monkeys was not recognised. A song sung for 
amusement by the Veddas beginning Mamini mamini ma 
deyo was immediately recognised, as were two of the invo- 
cations of the Kolamaduwa ceremony, but considering how 
Sinhalese in substance this ceremony is this is perhaps not of 
much importance. 

At the present day the number of Veddas living their 
natural forest life is necessarily few, for their territory has been 
gradually encroached upon by the Sinhalese who are inveterate 
poachers. The Veddas, who were never numerous within 
recent historic times, are now rapidly dying out, while many 
have settled among the Sinhalese and so lost their identity. 
We met with only four families who still led the life described 
by Bailey in 1863, and these were not among the Nilgala but 
among the Nuwaragala Hills. At Nilgala itself there are no 
Veddas at the present day, though the local peasant Sinhalese 
doubtless have much Vedda blood in their veins. The Henebedda 
and Danigala Veddas are the descendants of those recorded by 
Bailey in 1863, and the Kovil Vanamai Veddas are the de- 
scendants of those known and described by the old Kandyan 
who visited us at Bandaraduwa. 

Hennebedda. At Hennebedda we met a number of 

families living together in the Bendiyagalge caves. They had 

come to this their largest cave, from several settlements all 

ivithin a few hours' journey. The genealogies show that at least 

^ These ceremonies are described in Chapter ix. 



in one instance there had been intermarriage with Sinhalese, 
and we suspected this in other cases, though the majority appear 
to be reasonably pure-blooded. 

These people make chenas^ on which they live temporarily 
in bark-covered huts; Plate X, figure i, represents the chena 
settlement of the local group of the Namadewa waruge, some of 
the members of which are shown in Plate X, figure 2. They 
gather honey and hunt, several of them possess guns, and some 
of them rear cattle for the Sinhalese villagers. Indeed, for 
Veddas their lot is singularly happy, since they live in the heart 
of the park country where game is still abundant. Bailey first 
induced some Veddas in the Nilgala district to make chenas 
about the middle of the last century, before which all the 
Veddas in this district were probably living their natural hunt- 
ing, honey-gathering life. 

It is not often that a community that has taken to the semi- 
civilised life of chena cultivation is seen, in which its members 
are so healthy and well fed, for Veddas dislike settling down 
and do not generally do so until they find they can no longer 
subsist on the game in the country, when they either drift into 
Sinhalese settlements, or make extremely rough chenas for 
themselves, the produce of which is seldom sufficient to feed the 
community. Besides which, as is the case with the Sinhalese 
peasants themselves, the crop is often pledged to Moormen 
pedlars before it is reaped. The poor Veddas then subsist 
as best they can on yams, honey and berries, and usually fall 
a prey to fever. Several Veddas in this wretched condition 
were seen between Namal Oyaand Bandaraduwa, while those at 
Godatalavva were scarcely better off". 

In the Nilgala district the conditions are different. Chena 
making and cattle rearing had been introduced while game was 
still abundant, families are still able to leave the chena settle- 
ment and hunt and gather honey, living during such times in 
rock shelters within their own hunting boundary. However, the 

^ Bailey defines a chena as "a patch of ground cleared from the forest for 
cultivation. The jungle is burnt down, a crop taken off, and then suffered to grow up 
again: it is recleared again after intervals of from five to ten years," Trans. EthnoL 
Soc. N.S. Vol. n, 1863, p. 282. 

Plate X 

Figf. I. A chena settlement of the Henebedda Veddas 






Fig, 2, Henebedda Veddas of the Namadewa clan inhabiting the chena 

settlement • 


Veddas are coming more and more in contact with their 
Sinhalese neighbours, and it is extremely unlikely that the next 
generation will remain pure. 

We visited two of the nearest chena settlements of these 
people, the huts (Plate X, figure i) were about as well built as 
those of the average Sinhalese chena, though the cultivation 
itself was certainly less systematic and orderly. The Namadewa 
folk lived in one settlement while the Morane and Unapane 
inhabited another. 

Although all these Veddas have come in contact with the 
Sinhalese and are visited by Moormen hawkers for trade 
purposes — as indeed even the wildest have been for many 
generations — they have retained their old custom of not allowing 
the stranger in the midst of their settlement where he might 
meet their women. A rough shelter had been built at one 
corner of the Namadewa chena in which the pedlars sat and waited 
until the Vedda men came to bargain with them. Hence in the 
main these people have retained their old virtues of truthfulness, 
chastity and courtesy. The first, upon which practically every 
observer has remarked, was modified in a particular direction, 
for they all wished to show that they were pure-blooded Veddas 
of the Morane and Unapane clans, which were considered 
superior to the rest. So the Namadewa men lied freely, de- 
claring that they belonged to Morane and Unapane, and one 
young man, otherwise a good informant, insisted that he was 
still unmarried, as he did not want to own that his wife was a 
Namadewa woman. Cases of intermarriage with Sinhalese 
were also emphatically denied, or only admitted after much 
cross-examination. Plate III represents a number of the men 
we met at Bendiyagalge. 

Danigala. The Danigala Veddas of the Nilgala district 
present a peculiar phase of the clash of civilization and barbarism. 
They are the classical "wild Veddas" of Ceylon described by so 
many travellers; their descent is pure but their own customs 
have been almost entirely forgotten, and are certainly ignored 
at the present day. They live in the park country, have a 
chena and a banana garden, and do a good trade in cattle both 
by herding for the Sinhalese, retaining every fifth calf as is the 


custom of the country and also selling those they have bred 
themselves. However, all this was unknown to us when we 
first met the people, nor would it have been possible to guess 
their prosperous condition from the first sight of their settlement. 
It was well known throughout the Vedirata that investigations 
were about to be made among the Veddas, and all the village 
headmen had been given instructions to render assistance. They 
therefore told the Veddas to expect us, and would have sent for 
them to come to the Public Works Department bungalow on 
our arrival had we not expressly stated that we preferred to visit 
the people in their homes. A very rough track led to the top of 
the Danigala Hill, about 1200 feet high, where, on a rounded 
shoulder of rock, stood the skeleton hut of the Danigala Veddas 
shown in Plate l\. This was built on the pattern of the ordinary 
village Vedda habitations but entirely lacked the slats of 
bark which make the sides moderately weather proof By its 
side was an even rougher shelter consisting of a large bough 
with the smaller branches trimmed and overlaid with banana 
leaves. Kaira the patriarch or "senior" of the group sat outside 
the hut with three other men ; there were also present three 
women, a boy of about 12, and two younger children, and 
although both of the latter had many teeth they suckled 
persistently. This hut and some of its occupants are shown in 
Plate n, the rough shelter by its side in Plate XI, figure i. 

Although Mr Bibile, whom all these people knew quite well, 
was with us, they were quite apathetic, their attitude was clearly 
not the result of shyness, but simply due to the fact that they 
took no interest in our presence ; the women continued to suckle 
their infants and the men squatted or lay upon the rocks and 
chewed in gloomy silence, and when addressed they grunted 
"yes" or "no." One of the infants who smiled and cooed and 
tried to gain our attention was the only member of the group 
who seemed to take the least notice of us. Kaira told us that 
the people we now saw represented all that remained of the 
Danigala Veddas. We noticed some bananas (which do not 
grow wild in Ceylon) on the further side of the ridge and we 
asked to see their plantation. A prompt denial of its existence 
was the result, though Kaira afterwards told Mr Bibile that he 

Plate XI 

Fig. I. Rough shelter on the Danigala rock dome 

Fig. 2. Veddas of Bandaraduwa 


would show him his chena but that he did not wish the white 
people to know anything about it. Further talk with these 
people showed that it was impossible to obtain reliable informa- 
tion from them, they had been utterly spoilt as the result of 
being frequently interviewed by travellers. 

The Veddas have long been regarded as a curiosity in Ceylon 
and excite almost as much interest as the ruined cities, hence 
Europeans go to the nearest Rest House on the main road 
and have the Danigala Veddas brought to them. Naturally the 
Veddas felt uncomfortable and shy at first, but when they found 
that they had only to look gruff and grunt replies in order to 
receive presents they were quite clever enough to keep up the 
pose. In this they were aided by the always agreeable villagers 
ever ready to give the white man exactly what he wanted. The 
white man appeared to be immensely anxious to see a true 
Vedda, a wild man of the woods, clad only in a scanty loin cloth, 
carrying his bow and arrows on which he depended for his 
subsistence, simple and untrained, indeed, little removed from \ 
the very animals he hunted. What more easy than to produce 
him .'* The Nilgala headman sends word when strangers are 
expected, then the Veddas repair to their very striking hut on 
the rock dome and often post a look-out on a big rock about half 
way up, for on our second visit the leading man of our party who 
was carrying the camera stated that he saw a Vedda bolting from 
this rock as we came up. These folk, who when we saw them 
wore their Vedda loin cloths and were smeared with ashes, are 
reported to wear ordinary Sinhalese clothes when not in their 
professional pose, and Mr Bibile, who has himself seen one 
or more of them in sarongs, points out that the imposture is 
kept up for two main reasons ; firstly, they fear that their 
cultivation might be stopped (evidently an echo of the chena 
difficulty of the Eastern Province), or that they might be taxed 
if they did not appear to be poor fellows living on hardly won 
jungle produce ; secondly, their pose of poverty interests strangers 
and procures them visitors, whose generosity is the greater the 
more primitive their mode of life appears to be. 

As a matter of fact the Danigala Veddas like those of 
Henebedda (with whom we became really friendly) keep cattle 


for the Sinhalese of Potuliyadde, receiving every fifth calf that 
is born. The community has, or recently had, ten or more head 
of cattle of their own and have sold bulls to the brother-in-law of 
our tavalam'^ leader for as much as 30 Rs., indeed, our tavalam 
leader stated that he had himself visited the Danigala chena and 
had also seen the cattle. On this occasion Kaira and his sons 
wore a coloured cloth as the Sinhalese do and their women wore 
a kambaya and coloured breast handkerchief. Mr Bibile was 
able to confirm some of these statements from his own know- 
ledge and on making investigations among the local villagers 
discovered that there was a whole community living on the 
chena settlement, some of whom had married Sinhalese. Indeed 
it appeared that not only have members of this community 
learnt to play the part of professional primitive man, but there 
has even been specialisation, for as far as we could learn, the 
men we met at the look-out hut are those who always receive 
visitors or come to Bibile when sent for, while the others whom 
we did not see do not pose as wild Veddas. Probably the part 
they now play had only recently crystallised into a professional 
role, but it must be remembered that so long ago as 1863 Bailey 
discussing these Veddas, or their fathers, says " they were 
brought in from the forests to be 'looked at'" and he adds, 
" I never saw that contempt for money which Tennant supposes 
is still existing'-." 

Kovil Vanamai. In the Eastern Province in the neighbour- 
hood of Devulani tank the Kovil Vanamai Veddas are found, 
this term being applied to a number of groups of Veddas living 
in this neighbourhood. The name Kovil Vanamai means temple 
precincts and seems to have arisen from there being one or 
more temples in this part of the country, while some of these 
shrines are traditionally associated with Veddas, apparently 
with old settled coast and village Veddas, for we have no 
reason to think that the ancestors of the folk we saw at 
Bandaraduwa, or the other wilder Veddas of fifty years ago, were 
in any way guardians of the temples or dependent on their 
bounty. Although at the present day the Kovil Vanamai 
Veddas are represented by scattered groups, for the most part 

^ A tavalam is a train of pack bulls. 2 Bailey, op. cit. p. 28 s. 


badly off and in varying conditions of ill health and malnutrition, 
there is abundant evidence that only a generation back these 
communities were composed of a large number of families who, 
although they made chenas, led a healthy hunting life for a 
great part of the year. Plate XI, figure 2, represents some 
men and children of the Bandaraduwa chena settlement ; from 
this photograph it is evident that in spite of their prosperity 
even twenty-five years ago, there must have been much misce- 
genation, and the appearance of a couple of old grey-headed 
men alleged Veddas whom we saw in this neighbourhood cer- 
tainly suggested that they possessed only a fraction of Vedda 
blood \ 

The following account of the Kovil Vanamai Veddas as they 
existed some 20 or 25 years ago was given us by Tissahami, 
Arachi^ of Potuliyadde, a man who on account of his long 
association with Veddas is often spoken of as the Vedda Arachi. 
This man though presenting the appearance of a typical Kandyan 
Sinhalese has Vedda blood in his veins, for his ancestors were 
Veddas of Moranegala in the Eastern Province, his great grand- 
father being a Vedda shaman who settled at Damenegama in 
Uva Province. Although this man's descendants intermarried 
with the local Sinhalese (who are themselves in part the 
descendants of Veddas) and adopted the Sinhalese mode of life, 
one man at least in each generation continued to act as shaman 
(S. kapurale)^ and the father of the Arachi was a devil dancer 
and wederale (native doctor) of some note. This man's son, the 
Arachi, now a man of between 40 and 50, exerts a great deal of 
influence over the peasants in his neighbourhood, who all 
recognise that he is in more or less constant communication with 
the spirits, to which fact his neighbours attribute much of his 
success. In this manner was explained the quickness with which 
he recently learnt blacksmith's work. VVe had not heard of his re- 

^ Some of the "Veddas" living in the neighbourhood of Bandaraduwa and the 
sea are comparatively tall, stoutly built men with no appearance of Vedda ancestry. 
Two men from Uhene in Nadukadu Pattu measured 65 and 65^ inches respectively. 
Two men, who looked like Tamils but called themselves Veddas, lived on big 
Sinhalese chenas at Kotelinda ; one of them said that his wife's parents had belonged 
to the Galmede group. 

2 Arachi is the title applied to the headman of a Sinhalese village settlement. 


putation when he first joined our party, but it was very soon evident 
that he was handier, quicker and more intelHgent in every way 
than the other peasant Sinhalese with whom we came in contact. 
Stih later we discovered that by his influence a large clearing 
had been illegally made in a remote part of the jungle near 
Nuwaragala, and that on account of this he was doing his best to 
prevent our coming in contact with the Sitala Wanniya Veddas 
in whose territory the clearing had been made. Although in 
this he played us false and caused much needless trouble we 
found him in other matters a perfectly trustworthy witness, and 
as he had associated more or less constantly with the Kovil 
Vanamai Veddas from the age of lo to 20, there is every reason 
to accept his account of their condition 25 years ago. At this 
time there were about 50 families, i.e. some 200 people, who led 
a wandering hunting life for half of the year, during which time 
they lived in rock shelters and depended largely on honey ; for 
the rest of the year they paid more or less attention to chena 
cultivation, growing especially maize and ktirakhan {Eleusine 
coracaiia). Two or three families — not necessarily the same 
year after year — would usually wander and hunt together ; 
such groups of families might also make chenas together, 
though five or six families would often join to make a single 

Although they had a few guns even 20 years ago, bows and 
arrows were in common use and much of their hunting consisted 
of monkey drives. There were no mixed Sinhalese and Vedda 
chenas then. The Arachi remembers three caves belonging to 
the ancestors of the present Bandaraduwa Veddas, viz. Walim- 
bagalagalge, Ellavellagalge and Vianbendegalge. Each family 
was the recognised possessor of one or more rocky hills on which 
there were colonies of the rock bee, but the whole of the small 
hunting community would join to collect honey from each hill 
and the honey was always equally shared. 

The Kovil Vanamai Veddas belonged to Morane and 
Unapane and Uru zvariige. The latter lived apart near Uniche, 
i.e. between Tumpalamcholai and the coast. The Arachi states 
that the language has altered during the last 20 years, Tamil 
tending to displace Sinhalese, thus tirakodoi, " nothing," is said 

Plate XII 

Fig. I. Mixed Sinhalese and Vedda chena at Bandaraduwa 

Fig. 2. Uniche Veddas 


instead of kodoi, tira being a Tamil word, so that a composite 
word meaning "really nothing" is now used. 

At the present day there are probably no more than a dozen 
families left as representatives of the Kovil Vanamai Veddas 
and all of these live on Sinhalese chenas and are in dire poverty. 
The country has been referred to already as unhealthy, monkeys 
although abundant are not easily approached especially in the 
dry season, and other game is scarce. Isolated families have 
settled down in Sinhalese villages to pick up whatever living 
they can as occasional hired labourers, and some of these people 
were seen in a wretchedly starved condition. The most pros- 
perous are three families living on the large Sinhalese chena 
(Plate XII, figure i) at Bandaraduwa near Devulani tank. But 
even with the assistance of the chena these people are not well 
off, and it appeared that they were no strangers to hunger . 
Owing to their position on tiie border of the Sinhalese and 
Tamil country, they had been influenced by both Hinduism and 
Buddhism to a certain extent. In spite of this they knew 
numerous Vedda songs and incantations, and the ceremonies 
following a death which occurred in the vicinity during our 
visit clearly demonstrated that foreign ideas formed but a thin 
stratum overlying their own beliefs. 

The Uniche Veddas were not seen in their own country but 
some men were brought to us by the Forest Ranger, Mr S. 
Perera, at Maha Oya, where the photograph shown in Plate XII 
was taken. We have no note that these Veddas were Uru 
wariige men, but it seems probable that they represented the 
Uru warnge community recorded (as mentioned by the Vedda 
Arachi) on the last page. They had retained their own customs 
and beliefs very largely and appeared to be living in a condition 
very similar to the people near Devulani, though perhaps they 
were better fed. 

Sitala Wanniya. After visiting so many decaying or 
degenerate communities a refreshing state of affairs was found at 
Sitala Wanniya. Here there were at least four families who 
were living the life their forefathers had lived for generations 
without perceptible change. They, still found game, honey and 
yams in quantities sufficient not only to support life, but to leave 


a surplus to barter with the Moormen on their annual visit, or to 
take into the nearest Sinhalese village to exchange for iron, 
cloth, pots and occasional rice and coconuts. 

Plate XIII represents the women of this group, the plates on 
which the men were photographed were accidentally destroyed 
shortly after we left Sitala Wanniya. Handuna whose height 
was 1*530 mm. (60^ inches) looked a typical Vedda ; Vela who 
was two inches taller also had a Vedda physiognomy though 
his appearance was not so typical ; Kaira and Pema both looked 
as though they were of mixed blood, and Nila, height I'SSS ^^^ 
(61^ inches), shown in Plate LV, would certainly not be taken 
for a Vedda at all. 

Neither the assurance of a regular supply of food, nor the 
apathy produced by gradual starvation, had caused them to 
neglect their old ceremonies, and we found that once these 
people had overcome their shyness they were communicative, 
extremely courteous and merry. When the men understood 
they were free to come to our camp whenever they liked and 
that areca nut and betel leaves were always ready for them, they 
granted us the same freedom of their own cave, only stipulating 
that we should never allow our servants to go near it. 

When they first led us to their cave we noticed that they 
stopped and shouted when about a quarter of a mile distant and 
did not proceed until an answering shout was heard. This they 
said was their custom and was equally observed whether they 
were accompanied by strangers or not. The place at which they 
stopped was their usual dancing ground as well as the spot on 
which pedlars were received and barter carried on, for strangers 
were never allowed to approach their caves or see their women. 

Galmede. A family of Veddas of the Galmede group, seen 
at Godatalawa, consisted of ten persons who had left their old 
home in the Nuwaragala Hills, and who appeared to be moderately 
pure-blooded. The old man of the community proved a good 
informant, remembering a considerable number of old customs 
and invocations, but he was not a shaman, and as there was not 
one in the community most of the customs had fallen into desue- 
tude. The members of this community were living on a very 
poor chena and, when we saw them, were in great difficulties as 

Plate XIII 

Women and girls of Sitala Wanniya 


they had been called upon to pay a chena tax as well as i'5o Rs. 
per adult male road tax. Of course they were unable to collect 
this money and they dreaded the ensuing penalty, that of serving 
on the roads, for should the two young men leave the settlement 
the old man and woman and the girl must starve, the first being 
too old to work and the woman a cripple. Their plight would 
have been just as bad had the young man gone to work on some 
Sinhalese rice fields in order to earn the money \ 

Degenerate Veddas in the neighbourhood of the main 
Badulla-Batticaloa road-. The main road from Badulla to 
the east coast passes through country that was once the centre 
of the Vedirata, and on either side of it at a distance of some 
2 — 6 miles are various settlements of half-bred and degenerate 
Veddas who will soon be entirely lost among the Sinhalese. 
Plate XIV, figure i, represents two men of this class: it is obvious 
that the young man would pass for a Sinhalese, indeed in spite 
of his bow and arrows and traditional scanty Vedda garb the 
condition of his hair shows that he has at least been following a 
Sinhalese mode of life. It is possible that the whole Vedda get- 
up may have been assumed for our benefit, though in view of the 
comparative skill with which he handled his bow we do not think 
this likely. The old man was doubtless one of the last degenerate 
Veddas of the district. 

Before passing to village Veddas a word must be said con- 
cerning the Omuni folk and those of Unuwatura Bubula. Sir 
James Emerson Tennant, in his work Ceylon published in 1859, 
states that Mr Atherton, A.G.A., in conjunction with the 
Wesleyan Methodist Missionaries, attempted to civilise the 
Veddas^. In 1838 "cottages were built for them in their own 
district, rice land assigned to them, wells dug, coconuts planted, 
two communities were speedily settled at Vippammadvo." A 

' This is a not uncommon practice at the present day. 

2 This road is only some forty or fifty years old, Mr Warren tells me that "the old 
road from Badulla to Batticaloa joined the road from Alutnuwara. It crossed the 
present cart road about Kallodi and must have worked its way in the neighbourhood 
of the present road to Tumpalancholai and so to the ferry into Batticaloa." Part of 
this track is still used as a short cut. " There was another road from Passera through 
Medagama past Makakandiyaweva to Mandur; tavilain travel that way now." 

^ Tennant, op. cit. Vol. n, p. 447. 


school was founded and two other settlements formed at 
Oomany and Villengelavelly. However, the enterprise was soon 
abandoned owing to the misconduct of some of the teachers. 
"But," continues Tennant, "the good effects of even this tem- 
porary experiment were apparent ; not one of the Veddas 
returned to his cave and savage habits.... The other colony at 
Oomany continues to the present day prosperous and successful, 
twenty-five families are resident around it, rice and other grains 
are produced in sufficiency and coconuts are planted near the 
cottages. The only desertions have been the departures of those 
in search of employment, who have removed to other villages in 
quest of it. The school was closed in 1847 owing to there 
being no more children at the time requiring instruction...." 

The colony can no longer be called " prosperous and success- 
ful," indeed, we found it in a state of semi-starvation. Before 
1838, when these people were induced to settle, there can be little 
doubt that they were living in a somewhat similar condition to 
the Sitala Wanniya Veddas of the present day, but since then 
there has been a considerable infusion of foreign blood, for it has 
long been the habit of criminals and others desirous of conceal- 
ment, to seek refuge with the village Veddas, who usually receive 
them kindly and accept them as members of their community. 
Since the artificial origin of this settlement is known it cannot 
be regarded as belonging to the village Veddas, but rather to 
a colony of degenerate settled Veddas. 

Omuni. At Maha Oya three half-bred Veddas from Omuni 
were seen who had been brought in by the Sinhalese headman to 
work on the road as they had not paid their " road tax." It was 
unnecessary for them to plead they were poor and hungry, for 
their miserable condition showed this all too clearly. Happily 
Mr S. W. Woodhouse, the district judge, was then in Maha Oya 
and realising that while these men were absent from their 
village, their women and children would be in a worse plight 
than ever, he excused them their tax and sent them back to 
Omuni. About a week later we visited Omuni and although we 
were met with the customary gift of honey to which were added 
a few berries, it was obvious that the settlement was really short 
of food and this in spite of a number of families having left some 

Plate XIV 

Fig. I. Men of mixed Sinhalese and Vedda blood from the neighbourhood 

of Maha Oya. 

Fig 2. Women of Omuni 



months previously to wander into Tamankaduwa where they 
hoped to get yams and perhaps some game. A number of 
women left the village immediately after our arrival, explaining 
that if they did not go and find some yams they and their 
children would get nothing to eat that night. Some of the men 
possessed bows and arrows but game was scarce, and their 
living was obviously precarious, yams, monitor lizards, honey 
and berries forming their staple diet. Fowls were kept and were 
taken down to the road (10 miles distant) to sell. Like all 
Veddas they possessed dogs, invaluable to them in catching 
monitor lizards when there is no bigger game to hunt, and their 
care for them was shown by a small shelter which they had 
built in order to shade a bitch with a litter of puppies. 

In physical characters these Veddas somewhat resembled the 
neighbouring Sinhalese, but were less stoutly built ; this appear- 
ance may however in part have been due to malnutrition. Their 
headman is a short, well-nourished, exceedingly active and 
intelligent individual, whose only Vedda characteristic is his 
short stature. Plate XIV, figure 2, represents a number of 
Omuni women. 

Unuwatura Bubula. The position of the Unuwatura 
Bubula Veddas is extremely difficult to understand, they occupy 
two small groups of huts (one of which is shown in Plate XV, 
figure i) a little distance from the huts of some peasant Sinha- 
lese. They formerly lived at Mudugala and have doubtless 
been in close contact with the Sinhalese for many generations, 
but whether they are the remains of village Vedda settlements or 
are settled wild Veddas cannot be stated with certainty, though 
the latter seems more probable. It must be explained that 
though this community has mixed much with the Sinhalese and 
has doubtless been much influenced by them, they have their 
own shamans and they perform their own rites quite apart from 
their Sinhalese neighbours. Unfortunately the shaman of these 
people who knew most about the customs and rites of this 
community was ill, having overtaxed his strength at the first 
ceremony performed for us, and was not able to talk much, but 
he was present at most of our conversations and was thus a 
check on the younger man, but for the reason indicated many 


points were left doubtful. The extent of their neighbours' 
influence upon this community may be gauged to a certain 
degree by the following fact. When visiting the shaman we 
asked him to show us his aude and other sacred objects (as 
will be seen later, certain beads are held sacred in this com- 
munity), he replied that he did not keep them at his own hut 
because of the noxious influence due to the presence of the 
women ^ but that the Sinhalese gamai^ale"- took charge of them 
for him. We then went together to the house of the gamarale; 
this consisted of a hut divided by a partition at the back, one 
room being the sleeping room and the other the granary, and a 
large open barn in front, with its roof continuous with that of the 
hut. In the part of the barn nearest the rooms, the women of 
the household were cooking and pounding rice, while the back 
was railed off to form a byre in which a number of calves were 
tethered and into which the cows were driven at night. When it 
was pointed out that there were also women living in this house 
the shaman explained that their influence was counter-balanced 
by the presence of the cows. Physically some of the Unuwatura 
Bubula Veddas must be regarded as tolerably pure-blooded, 
since they included some of the shortest men we met. One man 
measured only about 1360 millimetres (53^ inches), but probably 
he is to be regarded as almost a dwarf. 

Village Veddas. 

The village Veddas form a class which it is most difficult to 
describe briefly, yet fairly. The term must not be taken to 
apply to degenerate Veddas who have lost their jungle character- 
istics and independent habits under Sinhalese encroachment. 
Doubtless many such folk do live as Sinhalese in chena settle- 
ments for a short time before their extinction in the surroundine 
mass of peasant Sinhalese. But this is not the sense in which 
the Sinhalese apply the term Gan Veddo (village Veddas), nor 
is it the sense in which we use the term. Knox speaks of "wild" 

^ We afterwards ascertained that kile was the name for the ceremonial un- 
cleanliness of women. 

- The gamarale of a Sinhalese village is the headman, who is responsible for 
the cultivation of the village lands and generally directs the agricultural affairs of the 

Plate XV 

Fig. I. Vedda settlement at Unuwatura Bubula 

Fig. 2. Village Veddas of Dambani 


and "tame" Veddas, and to come to more recent times, there is 
evidence that a hundred years ago there were organized com- 
munities of house-building Veddas, while certain Veddas received 
grants of land from the Sinhalese kings, and on these lived as 
definite village communities until quite recently, probably till 
within the last half century. 

Village Veddas of Uva Bintenne. 

Dambani. The present community of Dambani, in the 
jungle between Kallodi and Alutnuwara, may serve as an 
example of a village Vedda community. Some twenty families 
living in tolerably built houses keep buffaloes and cultivate 
chena, the latter being big enough not only to supply their own 
wants, but to permit of a lively trade with Sinhalese traders. 
These Dambani folk have been known to the Arachi of Belligala 
as a flourishing community in the same social condition for the 
last thirty years, and he states that they were in this condition in 
his father's time. A short visit was sufficient to show that here 
was a community which, though it had lost many Vedda beliefs, 
still retained others, and was so strong and independent that 
there was little likelihood of its immediate fusion with the sur- 
rounding population. Physically these people (Plate XV, figure 
2), though somewhat darker and often of a stouter build than the 
Danigala Veddas, could not be mistaken for Sinhalese. The 
Dambani people are unfortunately "show" Veddas, that is to say, 
people who have been sent for so often by white visitors that 
they have learnt certain tricks, which they show off directly they 
see a European, and so constantly demand presents that serious 
work with them is an impossibility. 

A positive advantage which has, however, arisen from this 
condition, is that these folk have kept up the remains of the 
so-called Vedda language. The headman in whose district these 
Veddas are situated is largely responsible for this, for he always 
speaks to them in their own dialect in harsh tones. He is an 
extremely kind old man, and answers definite questions perfectly 
truthfully, yet like so many Sinhalese, he generally says only 
what he thinks is expected of him, hence, the belief in the fierce 
sullen ways of the Veddas and their inability to laugh has been 
s. V. 4 


unconsciously fostered by him. A brief account of our visit to 
Dambani will best show the present condition of these people. 

While in the jungle we were suddenly met by four Veddas, 
who greeted the Arachi in a deep and apparently fierce tone, he 
returning the greeting in the same manner. To our surprise 
these men came up to one of us (C. G. S.), shook hands, and 
then turned and led us to their village, on the way to which 
we passed a couple of "tame" buffalo that tried to charge 
us. There were three huts in the village and the headman's 
wife — not at all shy or diffident — after shaking hands took 
one of us (B. Z. S.) by the arm and led her into a hut. This 
had a good roof and walls of sticks, only one side being 
closed by bark slats, it was full of pumpkins and other chena 
produce, which were however soon removed. We then sat down 
to take vocabularies, as the talk going on around us sounded 
quite different from Sinhalese and they professed not to under- 
stand our interpreter who was unable to follow them. So we 
spoke through the Arachi. The headman's wife brought us each 
some honey and yams and commanded us to eat. We sucked 
the honey comb, but that did not satisfy her and she tried to 
feed one of us (B. Z. S.) with yams herself and to pour water 
down her throat. After giving us a few Vedda words, the Vidane 
(headman) began to talk very angrily and then stalked out of 
the hut. He complained that we had not given him presents 
and refused to speak another word until we gave him something. 
Other men came into the village making a total of about lo or 
1 1 grown men and some boys, but only two middle-aged women, 
the wife of the Vidane and another, so it was evident that there 
were other huts in the neighbourhood. We told the Vidane 
that our carriers would bring presents and made him and a few 
other men come back to the hut. But after every two or three 
words there were more angry protests and our interpreter ex- 
plained that "other white men had not treated them so." When 
they raised their voices theii talk sounded fierce, every word 
being shouted with emphasis and accompanied by scowling 
looks. Then we found out from the Arachi that these like the 
Danigala Veddas were "show Veddas" who had been utterly 
spoilt by presents from "distinguished visitors," some of whom 


had actually been to the village. They had been sent for often 
to see others at Wewatte and Alutnuwara bungalows, and for 
even greater folk had been taken to Kandy. And so they had 
learnt to shake hands and had picked up exaggerated ideas of 
their own importance and the value of their information, and 
expected a present for every remark they vouchsafed. It was 
a horrible change from the courteous behaviour of the Sitala 
Wanniya cave Veddas. 

As the Dambani folk were so very unfriendly we began 
to hope the carriers would not come at all that night, there 
was nowhere for them to sleep, and we thought the Veddas 
might resent their presence. They told us repeatedly that 
" Sinhalese men would not dare to come to their villaee," in 
spite of the fact that there were two petty Sinhalese traders in 
the village at the time, who did not even trouble to go away 
before dark, but seemed naturally to expect a night's lodging, 
which was granted them without any fuss, and there appeared 
to be no difficulty about language with them. About six o'clock 
our servants and the carriers arrived, and curiously enough 
instead of resenting the intrusion the Veddas seemed very 
impressed by their number, and presumably our importance, in 
having so many dependents, for they became much more 

The next morning early, we set the phonograph going with 
a Vedda song: immediately the whole village crowded round us, 
intensely interested. They recognised the song and said it was 
very good. The Vidane then sang a song into the machine and 
was quite excited to hear it repeated, but again began his 
demand for presents although besides a rupee we had now given 
white cloth to him and the other men from whom we had got 
vocabularies. Having obtained records we realised that it was 
impossible to do any good work among such spoilt people 
and decided to go to Belligala. We offered some beads to the 
headman's wife, but she said the string was not long enough ; 
this annoyed us and we asked her if she would prefer not to 
have any, and on her repeating they were not enough we put 
them away. 

The Dambani men said they did not know to which zvariige 

4 — 2 



they belonged, which suggested to us that perhaps they belonged 
to Uru wariige or one of the other clans which are considered of 
inferior status. Although the Arachi of Belligala did not know 
their zvaruge and believed that they had really forgotten them 
themselves, our opinion was confirmed by information obtained 
later from the Arachi of Alutnuwara who said that they were of 
the Uru and Namadewa warnge, while a Vedda of Horabora- 
wewa told us that his mother came from Dambani and she 
was a Namadewa woman. 

As the Arachi of Belligala assured us the Bulugahaladena 
Veddas lived in a condition precisely similar to those of 
Dambani, we did not visit their village but arranged for two of 
them to visit us at Belligala ; they greeted us in the same way 
as the Dambani folk, with loud and guttural voices, accentuating 
all the " chs," and shook hands. They brought some honey and 
yams. They said they could not bring banibara honey (for it 
was too early in the year) so they had brought honey from the 
stingless bee. After a little while they gradually dropped their 
guttural tones, especially when they were speaking to the 
villagers and not to us, their voices, naturally deep, assumed 
a sing-song tone not unlike that of Nila of Sitala Wanniya. 
We consider that the gruffness of these Veddas is almost 
entirely affectation. They have been expected to be sullen 
and morose and never to laugh. For thirty years the Arachi 
of Belligala has acted as " show-man " to the Veddas of his 
district, and he always speaks to them in their "language" in 
similar or even fiercer tones, and he has shown them so many 
white men that he has quite lost count of their number. He 
has thus helped to keep up the fiction of "wildness," for these 
Veddas are not wild since they are not shy but come up, shake 
hands, ask for presents, and offer to dance. 

We believe that they keep up few, if any, of the old Vedda 
customs ; they cultivate chenas and keep cattle, their bows and 
arrows are probably more for show than use, for the Arachi told 
us that some of them possess guns while others go to the 
Sinhalese and borrow them. Deschamps says that Veddas never 
laugh nor have they ever been seen to smile. Of course this is 
not true of the Veddas of Nilgala, nor do we think it is true of 


these village Veddas, though they seem to be of a somewhat 
morose disposition. He also said they take no interest in things 
unknown to them. However, the phonograph attracted as much 
attention and interest as it always had from Veddas and 
Sinhalese alike, and we distinctly saw one Vedda smile when 
his song was reproduced. 

The chena settlement at Wallampelle was seen, but here it 
appeared that much intermarriage had taken place with the 

Malgode. There are a number of people very mixed blooded, 
but calling themselves Veddas, living at Malgode on the shores 
of Horaborawewa, a beautiful tank traditionally associated with 
the Veddas. They have dropped their old Vedda customs so 
entirely that the local Sinhalese no longer look upon them as 
true village Veddas, an attitude that has perhaps been fostered 
by the fact that here in Uva where the Veddas are exempt 
from all taxation these people pay road tax. Such at least was 
the point of view of the Arachi of Alutnuwara, " how can these 
people be Veddas? — they pay road tax." In spite of this there 
is no doubt that they are largely of Vedda descent and in many 
instances remember their ivaruge. They live in very poorly built 
houses and depend largely on the seeds of the lotus for food. 
They still pose as pure-blooded Veddas to white visitors, and 
have been recently described by Drs H. M. Hillier and W. H. 
Furness, 3rd. " We followed the jungle path along the eastern 
shore of the lake, sometimes over outcrops of granite, or down 
by the lake side.. .and after following our guide through thick 
undergrowth for half-an-hour, suddenly, and without warning, 
we came out into a cleared space, where there was the merest 
excuse for a hut, and beside it a man and woman squatting side 
by side and cooking something in a blackened earthen pot, 
which rested on a fire of twigs and branches ; a little beyond 
them were more huts and more women and children— lo! the 
Village Veddahs. The elderly man and woman whom we first 
saw had between them scarcely a yard of coarse cloth as clothing, 
their hair hung loose in dishevelled twists and strings about 
their faces, and they both squatted so low that their knees stood 
up above their shoulders. But the most impressive thing about 



them was their unhuman apathy and utter lack of interest.... 
Although we came upon them unexpectedly, and although, as 
they told us later, they had never before seen white people, 
nevertheless, neither of them showed the slightest astonishment 
or interest in our appearance ; both glanced up for a second, and 
then cast down their eyes, and continued silently shelling 
the seeds of the lotus pods beside them, and stirring the 
simmering pot over the fire. Near the other huts, women and 
children were occupied at the same task ; some were sitting on 
the ground around a pile of lotus pods, others were attending to 
the cooking. At first the children seemed a little frightened 
at us, but contrary to expectation, did not rush off to the 


" At the time of our visit there were but three men and 
seventeen women and children in Makulugulla; these were 
distributed in five shelters or huts. The chief's house was made 
of four upright posts and a flat thatched roof of palm leaves, but 
without walls or flooring. The other huts were shaped like 
A-tents, one was thatched with coarse grass, the other covered 
with large circular leaves of the lotus. The remaining two huts 
were shaped like wall tents, the roofs of grass or palm-leaf 
thatch, and the walls of bark. They all had dirt floors, and not 
one of them was over eight feet square. In three of the huts 
the utensils, such as earthen pots, baskets, gourds and mats, 
were piled on the ground at one end ; in only two were there any 
shelves. The floor of each, however, was neatly swept, and 
even outside the huts, where all but the aged and the very 
young slept, the ground had been swept clear of leaves and 

" The cooking was all done out of doors, at a fire-place 
consisting of three stones ; and the cook was honoured by 
having a seat, either a block of wood or the dried skin of the 
Axis deer or the Muntjac. We were also surprised to see their 
providence, in that they had quite a good-sized bundle of dry 
firewood on store in the huts. We expected to find the village 
reeking with refuse and decaying game, of which we heard that 
they were fond, but the place was free from smells, and really 
clean. The jungle at this spot was composed of large trees and 


sparse undergrowth, so that it was an ideal place for a camp, 
within easy distance of water. They may remain at this place 
three or four months, or even longer, before they seek a new 
village site, but probably they never go far from Horabora tank, 
on account of the great supply of lotus and other seeds which 
the lake affords. 

" None of them is tattooed, and they wear very few ornaments. 
Both sexes, however, perforate the lobe of the ear, and through 
the opening pass a wire, strung with beads or seeds. The women 
sometimes enlarge this perforation, and wear in it a plug, made 
by rolling a strip of palm leaf into a cylinder, from one half to 
an inch in diameter. 

" We got from them one of their earthen bowls that had 
rough patterns drawn upon it, but saw no other evidence of 
artistic ability. They make coarse mats and baskets of reeds 
and strips of bamboo, and use gourds and coconut shells for 
water bottles and cups. Spoons and ladles they make from 
a piece of coconut shell, with two holes, on one side, and a 
stick thrust through them to foim a handled" 

Village Veddas of Tamankaduwa. 

There are a number of communities of village Veddas in 
Tamankaduwa, all of which show marked evidence of inter- 
marriage with the Sinhalese and Tamils. 

Elakotaliya. There is a large Vedda chena here, but most of 
its inhabitants were away at the time of our visit, those present 
appeared distinctly half-bred. Their mode of life is similar to 
that prevalent at Dambani and Bulugahaladena, i.e. they are occu- 
pied in chena cultivation, cattle rearing, and do a little hunting, 
but as they have not specially preserved it for show purposes 
they have forgotten the Vedda dialect. However, they re- 
member their zvariige and practise exogamy ; they also reverence 
the Nae Yaku. 

Kalukalaeba. Another settlement was seen at Kalukalaeba, 
here were about twelve mud huts, all empty on our arrival, as it 
was the harvesting season and the people had gone to live 

^ " Notes of a trip to the Veddas of Ceylon." Bulletin of the Free Museum of Science 
and Art of the University of Pennsylvania, Vol. Ill, 1901. 


on their chena. We waited here a h'ttle while and two Veddas 
passed, one carrying a gun ; we asked them to return to their 
chena and fetch some of the other villagers. Soon some twenty 
men and about as many women and children arrived bringing 
us presents of honey, pumpkins and sweet potatoes. Scarcely 
any of them presented the Vedda type, they were all distinctly 
larger and more heavily built. Except their knowledge of their 
waruge and recognition of the Nae Yaku all remains of Vedda 
customs seemed to have been lost. 

Yakure. The inhabitants of Yakure, a village about six miles 
from Kalukalaeba, call themselves Veddas, though physically 
(Plate XVI, figure i) they would pass as Tamils or mixed 
Tamils and Sinhalese, and show even less evidence of Vedda 
blood than do the Kalukalaeba people. Their village consists of 
about 40 mud houses and is compactly built; a great number 
of cattle was seen grazing outside the confines of the village. 
Like the Kalukalaeba folk they know their waruge and invoke 
the Nae Yaku, but they have a temple, a simple mud hut, and 
worship a number of Sinhalese gods. Some men (Plate XVI, 
figure 2) from a village called Ulpota near Gunner's Quoin were 
seen here who also appeared to have mixed blood ; they knew 
the " Vedda language," that is to say we were able to get from 
them about the same number of words as we obtained at 
Dambani. When one of them was asked when this dialect was 
used he replied " only when we are sent for by the Government 
agent or any other white man." Among themselves they speak 
Sinhalese though they can also speak Tamil as it is largely the 
language of Tamankaduwa. 

Rotawewa. There is a settlement of alleged Veddas at 
Rotawewa about six miles from Minerriya tank. Concerning these 
we were told that they cultivated rice, and were in no respect 
different from the neighbouring Sinhalese, while Mr Jayawardene 
writes : " There is only one village of Veddas in Sinhala Pattu of 
Tamankaduwa District, and that village is Rotawewa, about 
six miles from Minerriya. These Veddas lived on the chase 
and subsequently took to chena clearings, and when the place 
began to be frequented by the low-country Sinhalese and other 
traders, some of them were able to sell their meat to them and 

Plate XVI 

Fig. I. Men of Yakure 

Fig. 2. Veddas of Ulpota 


they saved a little money and bought a patch of land of about 
1 1 acres from Government, which land they now cultivate with 
paddy.... There are sixteen houses in the Vedda Settlement of 
Rotawewa, and the householders in every case are descendants 
of Veddas. They are Sinhalese without any signs of Tamil 

They say they are of the Morane zvaruge, and they seem 
not to know any other zvaruge. Mr Horsburgh however states 
that "there is one other Vedda village in Sinhala Pattuwa 
besides Rotawewa, viz. Gallinda, with about three families who 
are the same people as those of Rotawewa." 

As a matter of convenience we have prepared a tabular 
summary of the conditions prevailing at the various settlements 
of wild and village Veddas that we visited. Besides those 
mentioned, many other families and even isolated individuals 
exist scattered throughout the Vedirata, especially in the 
neighbourhood of the Badulla-Batticaloa road near Maha Oya 
and Kallodi. These folk are in the last stage of degeneration, 
having given up their own wandering life and habits ; they have 
mostly drifted into Sinhalese villages there to die out miserably. 













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The genealogies on the next two pages show the relation- 
ship existing between the various individuals of the three Vedda 
communities, which still retain enough of the old Vedda mode of 
life to make a study of their organization valuable. At the first 
glance it is obvious that these genealogies do not go back beyond 
the memory of middle-aged men of the present day. We are 
convinced that this is due, not to any general distrust of our 
inquiries, but simply to certain peculiarities of the Vedda habit of 
thought which is directly dependent on their mode of life. The 
first of these is the extraordinary lack of memory shown by 
every Vedda for the names of individuals of more than one 
generation older than himself. This may perhaps be due to the 
fact that the number of individuals whom any one knows well is 
really small, being necessarily limited to the community to which 
he himself belongs. The genealogies show how small are these 
communities and, since every Vedda should marry a first cousin, 
marriage does little or nothing to enlarge the number of his con- 
nections. Further, each of the people with whom he comes in 
contact is related to him in a definite manner and is called and 
spoken of by a definite kinship term, so that personal names 
come to play a very small part in the daily life of the Veddas. 
It is this, doubtless, that has led to the frequent persistence of 
the baby names Tuta and Tuti, "httle one" in its male and 
female forms, as the only names by which many individuals are 
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such favourite names as Kaira, Poromala and Handuna leads to 
confusion, not only in the minds of strangers, but also we believe 
in the minds of the Veddas themselves. 

Sinhalese who come in contact with the Veddas find the same 
difficulty, and the individuals of certain communities, e.g. 
Danigala, have each a Sinhalese name by which they are known 
to the peasant Sinhalese, and which in many instances they 
themselves recognise, so that some Veddas actually know each 
other by these Sinhalese names, and give them when asked their 
own names or those of their companions. This is the explana- 
tion of the majority of Sinhalese names occurring in the 
genealogies. Again, the fact that among the Veddas there is 
no system of hereditary chieftainship, or any other custom such 
as the vendetta, forcing a man to know and remember his grand- 
fathers, cannot but have assisted to bring about the forgetfulness 
of previous generations, which with the rarest exceptions makes 
everyone entirely ignorant of his grandparents. In the case of 
the Danigala and Henebedda Veddas there was an additional 
difficulty to be met in conducting our investigations. The men 
of these communities who for the most part belonged to the 
Morane and Unapane clans, traditionally the proudest and most 
important of the Vedda warttge, had to a certain extent inter- 
married with Sinhalese and also with the Veddas of Namadewa 
clan, a zvarnge which in this part of the country is regarded as 
of inferior status. They are most anxious to conceal instances 
of both these classes of marriage and lied freely concerning them 
and this is the reason for certain lacunae in their genealogies, 
which in the case of the Danigala community could not have 
been given at all had not Mr Bibile's position as Ratemahat- 
maya, i.e. hereditary overlord or "laird" of this part of the 
country, enabled him to make inquiries from the surrounding 
peasantry, and thus check, and in many instances correct, the 
information we obtained from the Veddas themselves. 

A Vedda community consists of from one to five families 
who share the rights of hunting over a tract of land, of gathering 
honey upon it, fishing its streams, and using the rock shelters. 
But the whole of the community does not commonly move about 
its territory as one band, it is far more common to find only the 


members of single families or small groups of two families living 
and hunting together. 

Each family consists of parents and unmarried children to 
whom, are generally added married daughters and their husbands. 
It is rare to find a married son with his father and mother, and 
a widow often marries the brother of her dead husband. We 
may now give some examples of the communities we actually 
met, premising that where a community such as that of Godata- 
lawa consists of a single family only, this is probably due to 
depopulation and "hard times." 

By consulting the genealogies on pp. 60 and 61 it will be seen 
that the Godatalawa family consisted of an old white haired 
man, Handuna, the "senior" of the group, his wife Dilisini, 
their daughter Kumi, a girl scarcely past puberty, and another 
daughter, Mutumenike, whom we did not see. Besides these 
there were Kaira (Hudubandar) and Kaira (Vinake), both sons 
of the old man's sister Hudi, and therefore actual or potential 
sons-in-law, and the two young children of the dead Ukumenike, 
a daughter of Handuna by his first wife Dingerimenike. 

The Sitala Wanniya community when we first met them 
consisted of two families, those of Handuna the "senior" of the 
group, and his half brother Vela. Handuna had with him his 
wife Tandi and his two boys, his married daughter Kandi, and 
her husband Kaira with his sister Selli and the two young 
children born to Kaira and Kandi. Vela had only his wife 
Bevini (sister of Tandi) and his two young children. After a few 
days they were joined by another family consisting of Nila and 
his wife Wiri, with their daughter and her husband Paema, an 
unmarried girl and a small boy. The relationship between 
Handuna and Nila was that their grandmothers were sisters and 
their mother and father cousins who reciprocally called each 
other akka (elder sister) and maleya (younger brother). 


The system of kinship was studied by means of the 
genealogies, and the following list of relationship terms com- 
piled from the genealogies shows that the Vedda system of 


relationship is a late form of the kind known as classificatory. 
Further, since the Vedda system closely resembles the Sinhalese 
the one may have been borrowed from the other. 

Mutia, father, grandfather. 

Atta, mother, grandmother. 

Puia or tuta, son, sister's son (fern, loq.), brother's son (m. loq.). 

Duwa or tiiii, daughter, sister's daughter (fern, loq.), brother's daughter 

(m. loq.). 
Mtiniiburay grandson. 
Miniberi, granddaughter. 

Aiya, elder brother, maternal aunt's son, paternal uncle's son. 
Maleya, younger brother, maternal aunt's son, paternal uncle's son. 
Akka, elder sister, daughter, paternal uncle's daughter. 
Naga, younger sister, maternal aunt's daughter, paternal uncle's 

Mama, maternal uncle, paternal aunt's husband. 
Netidamma, paternal aunt, maternal uncle's wife. 
Lokiiappu, paternal uncle (older), maternal aunt's husband. 
Kudiiappu, paternal uncle (younger), maternal aunt's husband. 
Lokuaiiuna, maternal aunt (older), paternal uncle's wife. 
Ktiduanuna, maternal aunt (younger), paternal uncle's wife. 
Hum, paternal aunt's son, maternal uncle's son. 
Naena, paternal aunt's daughter, maternal uncle's daughter. 
Baena, sister's son (m. loq.), brother's son (fem. loq.). 
Yeli, brother's daughter (fem. loq.), sister's son (m. loq.). 

It will be noticed that none of these terms, except hura and 
Jiaena when used between individuals of the same sex, are 

The working basis of the Vedda kinship system is the 
marriage of the children of brother and sister, but not of two 
brothers or sisters. Thus, when a woman's son marries his 
mother's brother's daughter the man's maternal uncle {mama) 
becomes his father-in-law and his maternal uncle's children (his 
hura and naena), except the girl he has married, become his 
brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law. None of these relatives, how- 
ever, change their kinship term on this account, Jmra and naena 
being only applied to individuals with whom intermarriage is 
actually possible, or would be possible if the sex of the speaker 
permitted it. On marriage the girl's paternal aunt {nendamma) 
becomes her mother-in-law, but as before marriage this woman's 
children remain her hura and naena. 


The words lage eto, lato or sometimes leto, the two last benig 
abbreviations oi lage eto, were often added to relationship terms ; 
as examples of this we may record mutta lage eto, atta lato, 
maleya leto. We were told that the term in its various forms 
had the sense " of" or " from my own people," and it would only 
be used of near relatives, thus Poromala of Henebedda added 
some form of this word to the terms by which he called almost 
all his relations. This was not the case at Sitala Wanniya where 
Handuna (being then in our camp) said that he might use the 
term maleya lage eto when speaking of his brother who was up in 
the cave. 

A man usually spoke of his wife as his "woman," gani. 
Addressing her he would probably say thopi, "thou." At Hene- 
bedda the term meli was used. We have no record as to how 
a Vedda woman of the Sitala Wanniya group addressed' her 
husband ; at Henebedda we were told that a childless woman 
addressed and spoke of her husband as wani lage eto but that 
after children were born he should be addressed (as among the 
peasant Sinhalese) as " father of so and so " using the name of 
the youngest child. 

At Unuwatura Bubula it was said that not all naena and 
Jmra should marry, the correct marriage being for a man to 
marry the daughter of his mother's younger brother. We were 
not able to satisfy ourselves that this rule is especially observed 
at the present day. Of fifteen marriages between cousins — none 
of which are marriages of village Veddas — nine are marriages in 
which the man married his mother's brother's daughter, five are 
unions between a man and his father's sister's daughter, and one 
man married a woman who was equally his mother's brother's 
daughter and his father's sister's daughter, according to whether 
the relationship was traced on the mother's or father's side. 

The number of cousin marriages of which we have details is 
too small to allow the definite statement that marriages between 
a man and his mother's brother's daughter were especially 
frequent, though as far as they go they support this idea, which 
becomes all the more probable when the specially close relation- 
ship existing between a man and his mother's brother (cf. p. 
6^^ is considered. 

s v. 5 


Since the children of two brothers or two sisters cannot 
marry each other, they are not /iinn and naeiia but call each 
other "brothers" and "sisters," using the terms for elder or 
younger brother or sister according to their age\ 

Every Vedda so readily helps all the other members of his 
community and shares any game he may kill or honey he may 
take in so liberal a manner that at first it was difficult to deter- 
mine who were the individuals who had a special claim on others 
of the group. Certainly at first sight it seemed as if all game 
were equally divided among the members of the group, but after 
a little time we perceived that while an unmarried man looked 
especially after his mother, a married man's father-in-law had 
at least an equal claim on his son-in-law and in practice often 
received more attention, since a man generally spent most of his 
time with his wife's family. That the relationship between 
father-in-law and son-in-law is very close was shown in a number 
of ways, thus, when discussing children and their bringing up 
with Handuna of Sitala Wanniya, we asked him whether Veddas 
preferred to have a son or a daughter, the answer was prompt 
and decided, "a daughter, for thus a man obtains a son-in-law" ; 
and on another occasion when discussing relationship he stated 
very decidedly, avivia mania ekei, mother and mother's brother 
(i.e. father-in-law) are alike, and pointed out that as a man treats 

^ It may be worth while to say something concerning the alleged intermarriage of 
brother and sister among the Veddas, since Bailey and Hartshorne believed that such 
marriages occurred, and the Sarasins considered further investigation advisable. Our 
conclusions agree so thoroughly with Nevill's that we feel that we need do no more 
than quote what he has written on this subject. " Much nonsense has been written 
by persons who ought to have known better, about marriage of Vaeddas with their 
sisters. Such incest never was allowed, and never could be, while the Vaedda 
customs lingered. Incest is regarded as worse than murder. So positive is this 
feeling, that the Tamils have based a legend upon the instant murder of his sister, by 
a Vaedda to whom she had made undue advances. The mistake arose from crass 
ignorance of Vaedda usages. The title of cousin with whom marriages ought to be 
contracted, that is, mother's brother's daughter, or father's sister's daughter, is naga or 
nangi. This in Sinhalese is applied to a younger sister. Hence if you ask a Vaedda, 
'Do you marry your sisters?' the Sinhalese interpreter is apt to say, 'do you marry 
your naga?' The reply is (I have often tested it), 'yes — we always did formerly, 
but now it is not always observed.' You say then, 'What? marry your own sister 
naga?' and the reply is an angry and insulted denial, the very question appearing a 
gross insult : and if put by a Sinhalese, the Vaedda would probably not even reply to 
him, but turn away with a gesture of contempt." Taprobaman, Vol. I, l886, p. 178. 


his mother so should he treat his mama. A man's father and his 
father's brothers are less important than his mama who receive 
the largest share of all game killed by their actual or potential 

The love and comradeship existing between father-in-law and 
son-in-law was often very marked, and sometimes the voice of 
Handuna of Sitala Wanniya took on a special tone of tenderness 
when speaking of his baena; indeed, the importance of the 
relationship existing between father-in-law and son-in-law is 
shown in many ways. Thus not only do they very generally 
hunt and move about together, but whereas when a girl marries 
she is often given pots and gourds by her mother, a man receives 
wedding gifts, which — as is shown in the chapter on land 
transfer — often consist of tracts of land, not from his father but 
from his father-in-law, who should be his mother's brother. 

Again, although a man presents part of his kill to his father's 
brothers and mother's sisters, a larger share is given to his actual 
or potential father-in-law and mother-in-law, and before marriage 
these may get a specially large share. A man would assist his 
potential father-in-law and mother-in-law in house building and 
chena cultivation as a matter of course, but he would only help 
his other uncles and aunts if asked. When hunting, a son-in-law 
will usually carry his father-in-law's kill, but he would show the 
same consideration for his own father and probably for any older 

We may perhaps fairly sum up this matter by saying, that 
whereas before marriage a man paid at least as much regard to 
his future father-in-law as to his own father (and in theory he 
should pay more), after marriage his father-in-law becomes more 
important, and the association between father-in-law and son-in- 
law becomes far closer and more intimate than that existing 
between father and son. There are, however, certain matters in 
which father and son are more closely associated than mama and 
baena ; a boy's bringing up is essentially a matter to which his 
father attends, and in which the mama takes no great part unless 
the father dies.- Again, in theory, sons should take at least 
as large a part in looking after their aged and infirm fathers as 
do the latter's sons-in-law. 



All Veddas of a group are so nearly related that, with the 
exception of the bond of the uiania and baena relationship, the 
only duties which clearly fall to any individual on account of his 
relationship to others are certain ceremonial avoidances. These 
are limited to members of opposite sexes and practically in- 
clude all the men and women whom an individual of either sex 
might not marry. There is the most rigid avoidance between 
mother-in-law and son-in-law, and at Godatalawa we had an 
opportunity of seeing how sternly this rule is carried out. 
Dilisini is the oldest woman of the community, the wife of the 
patriarch or "senior" of the group ; she is physically unattractive 
and apparently long past the menopause, nevertheless her son-in- 
law Kaira who was standing a few paces off would not assist her to 
rise from the ground, although she had an acutely inflamed knee 
which was obviously extremely painful. In fact no man may 
come into any physical contact with his mother-in-law or even 
approach her closely. Thus, if a man met his mother-in-law in 
the jungle he would move aside off the track. He may however 
speak to her in the presence of others, though if he found her 
alone in the rock shelter he would not enter it until there were 
others present. Similarly though a man may eat food prepared 
by his mother-in-law he would not take it directly from her, 
it would be passed to him by someone else, most probably by his 
wife. A man avoids his son's wife in precisely the same way, as 
also his brother's wife, and a woman her sister's husband. It 
was said that if a man attempted to speak in private to any 
of these women, she would probably suspect him of endeavouring 
to make improper advances to her which her kinsmen would 
resent. A man should also avoid touching the daughters of his 
mother's sisters and his father's brothers as well as all those girls 
whom he calls " sisters " if these have attained puberty ; he 
may, however, speak to these relatives. We are not quite clear 
what is the correct attitude of a man towards his wife's sisters or 
those of his naena whom he does not expect to marry, but we 
believe that generally speaking any close contact is avoided 
between adults of opposite sexes, and that practically nqjnari 
may come in contact with anyjvoman of about his own age 
except his wife. At Unuwatura Bubula these rules were so 


rigidly observed that we were told that a man might not assist 
his sister to rise from the ground if she had fallen down and 
injured herself Further, it seemed that he should not see much 
even of the girl whom he was about to marry until she was 
handed over to him, though according to our Unuwatura Bubula 
informants it was not really bad for a man to touch any of his 
naena and he was allowed to do this in an emergency. At 
Sitala Wanniya it was said that adult /mr^ and naena should not 
speak to each other even when it had been arranged that they 
should marry, and at Omuni we were told that if in the old days 
a man was seen speaking to an unmarried girl, her outraged 
relatives would seek to kill him. Children may of course come 
in contact with their parents to any extent and at any age. 

Second marriages are, and always have been frequent, a man 
often marrying a sister of his deceased wife and a woman marry- 
ing one of her dead husband's brothers. We believe that such 
unions were regarded as both a privilege and a duty, though 
according to Handuna of Sitala Wanniya a man married his 
dead wife's sister principally becaase if he married any one else 
his children would not be looked after so well. If a widow does 
not marry one of her dead husband's brothers she may return to 
her parents, though it seemed that if these were no longer living 
she would generally stay with her late husband's group, whose 
duty it would then be to look after her and her children. 

With regard to name avoidance, a man does not speak the 
name of his mother-in-law and daughter-in-law and they also 
refrain from speaking his name, relationship terms being used 
instead. Nor does a man commonly speak of his son-in-law or 
father-in-law, or his brother's wife or sister's husband, except by 
the appropriate relationship terms ; beyond this we would only 
point out that, as already mentioned, neither man nor woman 
commonly speaks of his or her spouse by name, and there is 
a general tendency to avoid the use of names and where possible 
indicate an individual by a relationship term. In no case did we 
notice any hesitation in giving the name of any adult which we 
sought to obtain in the course of our inquiries. The objection to 
saying a young child's name and the reason for this is referred to 
on p. 103. 


Terms of respect were commonly used in addressing the aged, 
thus although siya or mtitta really mean father or grandfather, 
these words might be used as terms of respect in addressing 
any old man, and in the same way the terms ku'iamma (grand- 
mother) or atta might be used to any old woman, and we were 
told that siya was constantly used by members of the group 
in addressing the "senior" or patriarch. An individual of either 
sex would call his or her father-in-law's father siya or kiriappa, 
and a mother-in-law's mother is addressed as kirianmia. 

Clan Organization. 

It has already been mentioned that the Veddas at the present 
day are divided into clans {warnge) ; almost every man who 
calls himself a Vedda can give the name of his zvaruge and this 
applies even to many village and coast Veddas in whom there is 
a minimum of true Vedda blood. The clan organization of the 
Veddas was first pointed out by Nevill, who says: " The Veddas 
north of the Mahawaeli Ganga have lost their original divisions... 
and reduced to a few isolated families.... The Vaeddas known as 
coast Vaeddas have abandoned most of their ancestral customs 
and I cannot even ascertain from them their original name. 
Vaeddas of the forest districts do not preserve any tradition of 
relationship with these Vaeddas of the coasts" Nevill then gives 
the following nine names as those of the Vedda clans, to which 
he adds the Veddas of Tambalagama Pattu, Kattakulam Pattu 
and Anurajapura as true Veddas though their zvariige names 
seem lost. 

Morana waruge. 

Unapana waruge. 

Bandara or Rugam waruge. 

Namada, Namadana or Nabadana waruge. 

Ura-wadiya waruge. 

Uruwa waruge. 

Kowil waname. 

Aembala or Ambala waruge. 

Tala waruge. 

^ Taprobanian, Vol. I, 1886, p. 176. 


In this list no account is taken of the coast Veddas, of whom 
Nevill says that they "evidently belong to several distinct 

sections Only the old men speak what they call Vaedda, which 

is pure but quaint Sinhalese with a Vedda accent, as a rule, 

though mixed with some words characteristic of true Vaedda 

The Vaeddas say they never were related to these Coast Vaeddas, 
and do not know when they came to the coast, or where they 
came from, nor did they ever hear that they belonged to any 
waricge of the race. 

" The Coast Vaeddas do not know when they came, or how 
they came, but they say that long ago their ancestors came from 
the Gala, far beyond the hills to the west\" 

The Doctors Sarasin state that they attempted to map the 
territorial distribution of the clans given by Nevill, but on 
account of the vagueness of his statement were unable to do 
this. With regard to Nevill's clans we must point out that his 
5 th, 6th, 7th clan names are open to criticism. Kovil wattame is 
a descriptive term meaning " temple precincts " and, as has 
already been stated, is the general name for certain Veddas who 
live in the Eastern Province in the neighbourhood of Devulani 
tank and who belong to the Morane and Unapane waruge. It 
was formerly the general name for the Veddas who lived in the 
neighbourhood of the Kataragam temple in the extreme south 
of Uva. 

As for Nevill's Ura-wadiya zvanige and Uruwa zvaruge, these 
are not two waruge each having one of these names but are other 
names for the Uru waruge mentioned on p. 33. The nine clans 
given by Nevill are thus reduced to seven and, as will be shown 
later, there is every reason to believe that this number must be 
still further reduced by the exclusion of Rugam, i.e. Bandara 
waruge, from the list. 

We may now give the distribution of the waruge as deter- 
mined by ourselves. 

Morane. This clan is found at Nilgala, Henebedda, Banda- 
raduwa (Kovil Vanamai Veddas), Sitala Wanniya, Godatalawa 
(Galmede Veddas), and among the Mudugala Veddas now 
settled at Unuwatura Bubula, as well as among many of the last 

^ Taprobanian, Vol. i, 1886, p. 183. 


remains of the Veddas who lead a miserable existence in the 
neighbourhood of the Badulla-Batticaloa road between Kallodi 
and Maha Oya. The Morane clan probably also exists at 
Bingoda near Mullagama, and a few Morane people are to be 
found among the village V^eddas of Tamankaduwa. There is, 
however, reason to believe that this clan has been recently intro- 
duced from Omuni, where there are many people who in spite of 
the Sinhalese blood in their veins say they belong to Morane 

Unapane. The distribution of this clan is the same as 
Morane, and judging from the fact that all the Bingoda people 
we met said they were Unapane, it must be especially strong 

Namadewa. This clan is found at Henebedda where that 
part of the jungle known as Kolombedda was pointed out as 
their property, and among the village Veddas in Uva Bintenne 
(Dambani, Bulugahaladena, Girandura). It also occurs in 
Tamankaduwa where it was one of the chief waruge of Elakota- 
liya, Kalukalaeba and Yakure. 

Uru. This clan is found at Uniche among the village Veddas 
of Bintenne and Tamankaduwa and among the coast Veddas, 
Its name was known to the Sitala Wanniya Veddas and to many 
of the small settlements in the neighbourhood of Maha Oya. 

Aembala. Some of the coast Veddas say they are of this 
clan which is also found in Tamankaduwa, at Yakure and 
Ulpota. The name of this zvanige was known to the Sitala 
Wanniya Veddas. 

Tala. This clan was only known at Yakure. 

The distribution of Namadewa, Uru, Aembala and Tala 
wanige described above agrees with that given by Nevill. 

Besides the zvaruge, the distribution of which has just been 
described, certain other alleged rvanige were mentioned to us. 
In some instances it was certain that these were merely groups 
of people who were named after the locality they now live in or 
formerly inhabited. The most important of these territorial 
names was Rugam. The Rugam waruge was accounted an off- 
shoot of Morane, and since Rugam is the name of a large and 
important tank some 12 miles from Maha Oya where Veddas 


were formerly numerous, it seems reasonable to suppose that 
Rugam zvariige was originally a local group called after the 
territory they inhabited. 

Dehigama is another wariige name given as one to which 
a small number of Veddas of Uva Bintenne belonged and is 
avowedly a place name. 

Bendiya was also given as a zvarnge name and perhaps is also 
a place name. 

With regard to the origin of the names of the genuine Vedda 
wariige, the only hint that any of them are recognised by Veddas 
as springing from, place names was that conveyed by the state- 
ment of a number of Morane men that their ancestors came from 
Moranegala in the Eastern Province, but no Unapane man ever 
suggested that his clan had originally come from the place of 
that name near Kallodi. Moranegala is a hill name, and probably 
the hill has been named from the mora trees {Nepheliicin longana) 
which it may be assumed grew there, so that Moranegala means 
" the hill of the viora trees," and it might be argued that Morane 
wariige derived its name from the mora tree. Some support for 
this argument might be adduced from the fact that in songs 
collected at Sitala Wanniya both men and women of Morane 
waruge are addressed as " mora flowers." We were unable to 
discover that any Veddas had legends of the origin of their clans, 
but this is not to be wondered at in view of the almost total 
absence of myths among them. The Sinhalese on the other 
hand have legends of origin for four of the Vedda clans, and 
these legends, varying only slightly in form, can be collected 
from the Sinhalese all over the Vedda country. This, as well as 
the fact that Mr Bibile heard most of them many years ago 
from his father, show that they are not of recent origin, or 
invented for the benefit of European inquirers. 

With the exception of the legend of the origin of Morane 
waruge given by Mr B. Horsburgh the accounts here given of the 
origin of the Vedda clans were obtained from the Vedda Arachi 
of Potuliyadde, but the same stories with only slight variations 
were also obtained from the Lindegala " Veddas " and the Arachi 
of Belligala. 

Mr Horsburgh obtained his account of the origin of Morane 


wartige from the " Veddas " of Rotawewa — a rice-growing village 
in Sinhala Pattuwa of Tamankaduwa, the inhabitants of which 
say they are descendants from Veddas — although all accounts 
show that they are indistinguishable from their Sinhalese neigh- 
bours. " When Kuveni was abandoned by Vijaya she returned 
with her two children, a boy and girl, to her own people, who 
killed her. Her children fled to the jungle and lived on the 
fruits of the ' moi-a ' tree. One of their children came to 
Minneriya and founded the Minneriya (now Rotawewa) Veddas 
of the Morane Waruge." We have not visited these people but it 
may be assumed that they are at least as sophisticated as the 
" Veddas " of Yakure. 

Unapane. Unapane ivaruge is an offshoot from Morane. 
A chiefs daughter was given to another chief's son. When going 
to the bridegroom's cave the girl got thirsty on the way and the 
only water available was a minute trickle down the face of a 
rock. The man allowed this to soak into a piece of cloth which 
he squeezed into a bamboo from which the girl drank. This is 
the origin of the name from una " bamboo " and pane " water," 
and the descendants of this couple were called Unapane. 

Uru. A Morane girl became pregnant and refused to give 
the name of her lover. She was beaten and driven away from 
the group and brought forth her child in a hole dug by a wild 
boar, ?/;-//, hence the name Uru ivaruge. 

Aembala. Aembala waruge has sprung from Unapane. An 
Unapane girl's husband died while she was pregnant, and all her 
other relations were dead. When her child was born she left it 
under a tree while she went to dig yams. On her return she 
found that red ants {aembaleo) had blinded her child, whence the 
child was called Aembeli, and her descendants formed Aembala 

Namadewa. An Aembala woman brought forth a female 
child under a namada tree ; this girl was therefore named Namadi 
and from her descendants arose the Namadewa clan. 

Exogamy prevails among the Veddas of Bintenne and 
Tamankaduwa and clan descent is matrilineal. These conditions 
also prevail at Godatalawa and therefore must be assumed to 
have existed at Galmede whence the Godatalawa family had 


come, but strangely this and the nearly related Sitala Wanniya 
Veddas were the only communities to the east of the Badulla- 
Batticaloa road in which exogamy prevailed. The Henebedda 
and Kovil Vanamai Veddas all married freely within the clan. 
It is, however, probable that this is a recent though not quite 
modern innovation, since at Henebedda it was said that it was 
particularly fitting that Morane and Unapane should intermarry. 

Nevill recognised the existence of exogamy, and presumably 
it was of the Bintenne Veddas that he made the following very 
definite statement, which applies equally well to the conclition of 
things existing at the present day, even among such sophisticated 
folk as those of Omuni, where genealogies were taken in order to 
make quite certain of this matter. " The rule for marriage was 
stringent. The daughter represents her mother's family, the son 
also represents his mother's family. In no case did a person 
marry one of the same family, even though the relationship was 
lost in remote antiquity. Such a marriage is incest. The penalty 
for incest is death. Thus the daughter must marry either her 
father's sister's son, or her mother's brother's son, neither of 
whom would be of the same clan name. Failing these she may 
marry any of their name, and should no such bridegroom be 
available, marriage into a third family becomes necessary^" 

If the distribution of these Vedda communities in which 
exogamy prevails be studied on the map it will be seen that 
with the exception of the Sitala Wanniya and Godatalawa 
(Galmede) groups all the Veddas to the west of the Badulla- 
Batticaloa road are exogamous, whereas those to the east of the 
road contract marriage within the clan. 

As a matter of convenience we now give a list confiplementary 
to that on pp. 71 to 74 showing what waritge were represented 
in each of the communities we visited. Danigala: Morane, 
Unapane, Namadewa (the last not acknowledged). Henebedda: 
Morane, Unapane, Namadewa (the latter properly forming the 
Kolombedda community and settlement). Kovil Vanamai 
(Bandaraduwa) : Morane, Unapane, Uru (the latter forming the 
settlement at Uniche). In all these settlements marriage occurs 
within the clan, 

^ Taprobanian, Vol. i, 1886, p. 178. 


Sitala Wanniya. The Sitala Wanniya people said that 
Morane and Unapane were the only wariige of which they had 
any first-hand knowledge. They had, however, heard that 
formerly three other warnge called Uru, Kabela and Aembala 
existed, and that the folk of these zvarnge were of lower status 
than the people of Morane and Unapane. 

Godatalawa (Galmede). These people all belonged to 
Morane and Unapane zvaruge. 

Unuwatura Bubula. The zvaruge of this settlement were 
Morane, Unapane and Bandara ivarnge. Exogamy was strictly 
adhered to, and the children took their mother's warnge. As far 
as we could determine, all the poverty-stricken Veddas settled 
on chenas in the neighbourhood of Kallodi and Maha Oya on the 
Badulla-Batticaloa road belonged either to Morane, Unapane, 
Bandara (Rugam) or Uru warnge, the Morane and Unapane 
Veddas of the large chena settlement at Rerenkadi holding the 
last to be of inferior status. 

Lindegala. Three men, the last remains of the Lindegala 
Veddas, visited us at Kallodi. The oldest of these, the possessor 
of the aude with inlaid silver work referred to on p. 171, was a 
rather tall stoutly built man who looked like a Sinhalese. He, 
however, remembered his zvarnge Morane and stated that his wife 
belonged to Bandara warnge and one of his companions who 
belonged to this zvarnge had a wife belonging to Morane warnge. 
It was stated that children took their mother's warnge. 

Elakotaliya. The warnge of this settlement are Namadewa, 
Uru and Rugam ; exogamy was insisted on, and in all the nine 
marriages of which we have notes the contracting parties were 
of different zvarnge. In seven cases Uru and Namadewa zvarnge 
intermarried, in one instance Namadewa and Rugam wariige, 
while in the last instance the zvarnge of the woman was un- 
certain. Although it was clearly stated that the children should 
take their father's zvarnge, it was certain that in some cases they 
took their mother's zvarnge. 

It was said that a man should marry his father's sister's 
daughter and not his mother's brother's daughter but we could 
not establish this. 

Kalukalaeba. Morane, Namadewa, Uru and Rugam warnge 


are represented in this settlement. Although in conversation no 
importance was attached to exogamy this must be taken to 
exist since all of the ten marriages recorded are exogamous. 
These include six marriages of Morane with Namadewa ivaruge, 
two of Morane and Uru zvaruge and one each of Morane and 
Rugam zvaruge and of Rugam and Namadewa waruge. Children 
take their mother's waruge. 

Yakure. The ivaruge existing here are Namadewa, Aembala, 
Bendia, Rugam and Tala. Uru waruge was known by name 
but not otherwise, Dehigama was recognised as belonging to the 
Uva Bintenne and Morane zuaruge as existing in the neighbour- 
hood of Omuni. Exogamy was the rule and occurred in every 
marriage (8) of which we have records. Waruge descent should 
be in the female line but in some instances children took their 
father's ivaruge. Seeking to elucidate this matter it was said 
that whereas girls took their mother's waruge boys took their 
father's, but this rule certainly did not hold in all cases\ Cousin 
marriage was said to be the old custom, but it was admitted that 
at the present day this custom was more often neglected than 

Ulpota. This is said to be the most important of four small 
settlements of village Veddas in the neighbourhood of Dim- 
bulagala (Gunner's Quoin). These settlements are Ulpota, 
Kohombolewa, Alagonagoda and Gonandamene all of which, 
according to Mutua our informant, consist of a small number 
(Kohombolewa eight, Gonandamene three) of huts. Mutua, who 
said that he was headman of the Tamankaduwa Veddas, gave 
the waruge of these settlements as Rugam, Aembala and Morane ; 
the last being to his mind less numerous and less important 
than the others. The conditions as regards ivaruge descent and 
exogamy are the same as at Yakure. Of fifteen marriages 
recorded eleven are between individuals of Rugam and Aembala 

1 We may here refer to a statement made while we were investigating this matter 
at Yakure. " Properly speaking there are na waruge among the Veddas, who are 
only classified into imruge for the purpose of marriage." We could not determine 
what was in our informant's mind, and although we were subsequently told the same 
by the Ulpota Veddas we could not obtain any light on the subject from either 


wanige, the remaining four between Morane and Aembala (2) or 
Rugam (2) wanige. 

Dambani. These extremely sophisticated Veddas probably 
belong to Namadewa wariige and descent is probably matrilineal. 

Malgode (Horaborawewa). Our informants knew of 
Namadewa, Dehigama and Kapatu ivariige and no others, but 
when Morane wanige was mentioned to them one man stated 
that he had heard of a zvaruge of that name. 

Girandura. Here too exogamy prevailed though children 
took their father's zvariige, and we could discover no exception to 
these rules. The marriages we could trace took place between 
Dehigama and Namadewa zvariige, and between Dehigama and 
Uru ivarnge, we consequently assume that these are the waruge 
represented in this community. 

The Comparative Status of the Clans. 

The members of the Morane and Unapane clans generally 
considered themselves superior to the Namadewa, Uru and 
Aembala wariige. This feeling was so strong at Henebedda 
that much difficulty was at first experienced in collecting 
genealogies. Representatives of the Morane, Unapane and 
Namadewa clans were for the time living together at Bendiyagalge 
caves, and the difference in status between the Morane and 
Unapane on the one hand, and Namadewa on the other, was felt 
so strongly that the members of the last-mentioned waritge 
invariably denied their clan, while the Morane and Unapane 
folk said the Namadewa were their servants. It seemed clear 
that in the old days Morane and Unapane folk never married 
into one of the servile clans, but two or three such marriages had 
taken place within recent years, and in every case these marriages 
were at first denied. The most striking proof of this feeling was 
evinced when we had come to know all the members of the 
community and pretence had been largely given up; Sita 
Wanniya and Poromala our usual guides, both Morane men, led 
us one day to the Namadewa chena. The Namadewa men 
immediately began an angry protest. " These people," they said, 
meaning Poromala and Sita Wanniya, " call us Namadewa ; it 


is not so, we are as good as they," and again on leaving they 
declared that even if they were not Morane folk they were 
certainly as good, for had not the eldest born of Kaira the 
patriarch of Danigala, a Morane man, married a woman from 
their family? This last statement was proved to be true by the 
genealogy. As neither we nor our guides said anything to 
provoke these remarks the intensity of the feeling cannot be 
doubted. At Bandaraduwa there were only Morane and 
Unapane men, but they said that Uru tvaruge were their 
servants, and that some people of this clan lived near Uniche ; 
Wannaku seen later was doubtless one of these. At the chena 
settlement at Rerenkadi one woman said the Uru tvaruge were 
" dirt}/ " people. This was one of the first Vedda communities 
we visited, and the significance of the remark was not realised at 
the time. At Dambani the people professed to have forgotten 
their wanige ; we therefore surmised that they might belong to 
one of the inferior clans, and later at Horaborawewa a Vedda 
boy said his mother was a Namadewa woman from Dambani. 
Additional evidence in support of this view was furnished by 
the statements of the Alutnuwara Arachi recorded on p. 52. 

The services that the inferior clans were said to render to 
other clans were as follows : when big game was shot and fish 
caught the Namadewa men must carry it, and they must make 
the creeper ladders for gathering rock honey. How much of 
this work was really done by Namadewa people is extremely 
difficult to say, it is scarcely credible that when living apart from 
the servile clans the Morane and Unapane men would send for 
them to carry a kill, but when Poromala of Henebedda (Morane) 
had killed a deer and cut it up on the talawa near our camp, it 
was noticed that Kalua, a Namadewa boy who had not been 
hunting, came down from the cave and carried back the greater 
part of the meat. 

The Territorial Grouping of the Clans. 

Although at the present day it cannot be said that a terri- 
torial grouping of the clans certainly exists, or ever existed, 
there is considerable evidence that this once prevailed. We 


would in the first place refer to what we have already stated to 
be the geographical distribution of the clans at the present day. 
The fact that Unapane warnge, so important to the east of the 
Badulla-Batticaloa road and in its immediate vicinity to the 
west, is absent in Tamankaduwa is extremely suggestive, as is 
the limited distribution and importance of Morane warnge in 
Tamankaduwa. The existence of only one known Tala tvaruge 
centre (Yakure) and the limited distribution of Aembala wariige 
which, as far as we can determine, only exists in the country 
round Gunner's Quoin and among the coast Veddas who have 
avowedly come from inland, points in the same direction, as does 
the name Rugam zvaruge derived from the country round the tank 
of that name and often applied to a sub-group of Morane who 
are also called Bandara zvaruge. Turning now to evidence of a 
rather different nature our old Kandyan informant, whose state- 
ments have been quoted at length on pp. 29 to 34, was very 
emphatic in assuring us that the local representatives of Morane 
and Unapane clans, the two wariigc with which he was well 
acquainted in his youth, each had their own territory and caves, 
and even at the present day the information we were able to 
gather strongly pointed to Bingoda being an old centre of the 
Unapane clan, while Danigala was probably a Morane centre. 
Again Kolombedda was quite definitely said to be the Nama- 
dewa territory, and the Bandaraduwa community stated that a 
certain area in the neighbourhood of Uniche was the domain of 
the local group of the Uru wariige. 



The family life of the wilder Veddas centres round the rock- 
shelters which are truly their homes, and even among those 
Veddas who practise chena cultivation, but have not formed 
permanent settlements, these rock-shelters play an important 
part, the movements of the community or family group from 
shelter to shelter being regulated according to season and 
available food supply. Our experience leads us to believe that 
the wilder Veddas so greatly prefer rock-shelters to huts that 
they seldom build the latter, preferring rather to face the incon- 
venience of travelling some distance daily in search of food, 
and even to camp for the night under some temporary shelter. 
Except in this particular Nevill's description of the movements 
of a Vedda family still holds good if it be remembered that he 
applies the term " Village Vaedda " to any Vedda who makes 
even the roughest chena. " The Forest Vaedda forms a home 
two or three times a year, as the season demands. Thus in the 
dry hot months when brooks and ponds dry up, the game collects 
in the low forests around the half dried river beds. He then 
takes his wife and children, aged parents or crippled relatives, 
and settles them in a hut close to a place where water can be 
got. From this he makes his hunting forays, and returns to it 
with his game. The rain sets in however, and the iguanas, 
deer, pigs, etc. are scattered over the country ; the elk then seek 
rocky hills, and are followed by the Vaedda. The little house- 
hold goods, the children, and family party, again are moved up 
to the high ground, avoiding the malaria that now hangs as 
a shroud over the forest-clad lowlands. Here, if possible, a cave 
is chosen for the home, and improved by a slight roof in front, if 
s. v. 6 


too exposed, and around this the food winner ranges.... Besides 
his high-ground residence, and his low-ground residence, if 
a tract of forest burst suddenly into flower that attracts vast 
swarms of bees, or into useful fruit, the family will make a little 
pic-nic party, and go there for a week or month, if it be too far 
from the home for daily visits. He cannot, however, be called 
' nomadic,' any more than the European who has a town house, 
and country house, though the climate during the dry season calls 
for so trifling a shelter, that a permanent house is not required.... 
" The village Vaedda was originally, and indeed is still, 
distinguished as one who had added grain cultivation to hunting, 
honey collecting, and yam digging. When he moved into 
summer quarters, he set to work and felled a suitable lot of 
forest and burned it off, in the intervals of hunting. When the 
rain approached, he put up a hut that would keep his family dry, 
on this cleared space, and scattered grain seed over the charred 
surface. Leaving such food as they had stored for use then, in 
charge of his family, he would go off for days together to the 
high ground in search of elk, lodging as before in caves. When 
the weather cleared, and the grain ripened, they collected it, 
paid away small shares to other less provident clansmen, who 
had during the wet season sent the family little presents of flesh, 
while the father was away, and then away they went to another 
dry season division of their territory, where the mininnas and 
iguanas abounded. There is thus little difference between the 
forest and the village Vaedda, except that the latter makes his 
dry season home sufficiently substantial to keep out rain as well 
as dew, and that he leaves his family there, and does not take 
them to the high ground. He has never yet learned to make 
his clearing into a field or garden, or his six months' hut into 
a permanent home. We now come to the dwellings themselves. 
Where an overhanging rock can be found, it is of course sufficient. 
Otherwise any rock is chosen, and some sticks being laid sloping 
in front of it, it is roughly thatched with twigs, rushes, and large 
pieces of bark. A few elk hides, if not bought up by pedlars, 
will form a screen at one end. If it is only to exclude dew 
a very few branches or bits of bark suffice ^" 

^ Taprobauia>i, Vol. I, 1886, p. i36. 



The protection from the weather offered by the majority of 
rock-shelters (for they are all so shallow that they scarcely 
deserve the name of caves) is somewhat scanty, and the drip 











•— « 



, 2 









■ •s 


























, , 




































































ledges often cut in their rock walls show how fully this was 
realised by the Sinhalese who formerly lived in them. Nor are 
they in any sense capacious, as the plans of Pihilegodagalge 



(figure 2) and the Bendiyagalge caves (figure i) show. In the 
former the shelter was constituted by the weathering back for 
about five feet of a horizontal stratum softer than the rest of 
the rock mass. The shelter thus formed was about five feet high 
at its front and three feet at its back, and from personal 
experience we can testify that it afforded comparatively good 
shelter from the wet. This can hardly have been the case with 
such caves as Bendiyagalge which appear to have been formed 
by the weathering of a stratum with a dip of about 45 degrees, 
or by the oblique tilting and subsequent weathering of a rock 
mass such as appears to have formed Uhapitagalge (Plate XVII, 
fio-ure 2). Indeed we were told that such shelters as Punchiam- 
magalge and Bendiyagalge sometimes became uncomfortably 
wet. Plate XVII, figure i, is a view taken to show as much as 
possible of the rock mass in which the Bendiyagalge shelters are 
formed, and this figure and that of Uhapitagalge when examined 
in connection with the plan of Bendiyagalge will give a good idea 
of the possibilities of a Vedda rock-shelter as a home. As will 
be seen from Plate XVIII, figures i and 2 of Pihilegodagalge 
(Sitala Wanniya), no care is taken to keep the cave clean. At 
Bendiyagalge we noticed an unpleasant odour about the cave due 
to the lack of sanitary precautions taken by the members of the 
comparatively large community then living in these caves. 
Plate XIX, figure i, shows the general appearance of these 
caves including the steps (Plate IX) hewn in the rock between 
the lower and upper caves and the worked edge of the upper 
cave forming a drip-ledge. Plate XIX, figure 2, is an early 
morning scene in the cave, and was taken soon after its occupants 
had awakened. 

The love of the wilder Veddas for their rock-shelters, as well 
as their disregard for climatic conditions, is well illustrated by 
a remark made by Handuna the oldest and most influential 
man among the Sitala Wanniya Veddas, " It is pleasant for us to- 
feel the rain beating on our shoulders, and good to go out 
and dig yams and come home wet and see the fire burning 
in the cave and sit round it." 

Such a remark is in itself evidence of a cheerful disposition, 
and before going any further we must describe the Vedda 

Plate XVII 

Fig. I. General view of the rock shelters at Bendiyagalge 

Fig. 2. Uhapitagalge rock shelter 

Plate XVIII 

Fig. I. Pihilegodagalge rock shelter 

Fig. 2. Part of Pihilegodagalge rock shelter 

Plate XIX 

Fig. I. Lower rock shelter at Bendiyagalge 

Fig. 2. Early morning scene in lower rock shelter at Bendiyagalge 


temperament. Travellers have called the Vedda morose, and 
stated that he never laughs ; this belief has doubtless been 
strengthened by the disagreeable behaviour of the " show " 
Veddas (see p. 50), yet Veddas have told us how they throw 
leaves in the air and laugh and dance for joy. Nevill was 
certainly right when he said, " They are a merry people, 
delighting in riddles, songs and jests. Mr Hartshorn observed 
some Vaeddas who never laughed in his presence. They must 
have been either terrified, or sulky and offended, for those 
I have seen, of all clans, laugh often and merrily, a habit very 
strongly contrasted with that of the Sinhalese, who scarcely ever 
go beyond a smile. They burst into a verse of song, now and 
again, apparently from sheer exuberance of spirits, and any 
ludicrous incident amuses them ^" 

At Bendiyagalge we were particularly well situated to 
observe their behaviour, our camp being out of sight of the 
Vedda cave but within 200 yards of it, here we could listen to 
their unrestrained chatter and laughter which was especially 
noticeable at sunset. It is true that their faces express no 
emotion of pleasure or gratitude when they are given exactly 
what they expect. Thus, white cloth, which the men like to 
wear, is well known to them, they buy it themselves from the 
Moormen pedlars, it is the usual present for a European to make 
to Veddas, and they receive it with perfectly stolid faces, and 
are hence dubbed sullen. We had an excellent example of this 
at Henebedda when we gave a piece of white cloth to Poromala 
the senior of the group, whom we knew well and who had 
frequently smiled and laughed in our presence. When, however, 
a sharp pruning knife was given him his face beamed like 
a schoolboy's, he ran his thumb along the blade and tried its 
edge on pieces of grass. Things new to them which we showed 

1 Taprobanian, Vol. I, 1886, p. 192. Veddas often dance for a few moments 
when pleased, thus a Henebedda Vedda on being given a piece of sacking to cover 
himself with after complaining of cold, immediately held it over his head, bowed his 
body forward and went through a few dance steps, singing the while. On another 
occasion this man and three companions (all young men) began to dance spontaneously. 
This was about 9 p.m. one night in the courtyard of the Ambilinne Rest House, 
where they had visited us, their sense of well-being in this case may have been 
stimulated by a liberal feed of curry and rice which had been given them, but we do 
not think they danced in payment for this. 


them often provoked peals of laughter ; to see the eldest and 
most venerable man solemnly have his thumb nail pressed by 
a brass machine (algometer) was particularly amusing to the 
rest of the community, one man actually rolling on the ground 
with laughter. The old man took it all in excellent part and 
smiled indulgently. Doubtless Veddas vary much in character, 
but all except the " show " Veddas are genial and courteous, 
and have always been rightly considered truthful. At Sitala 
Wanniya Handuna was the most intelligent man, keenly in- 
terested in all the new things we showed him ; he obviously 
ruled the community by force of character, coupled with the 
fact that he was a shaman, Nila, however, was also a shaman, 
but he was obviously not so strong a man as Handuna, to whose 
opinion he deferred, and naturally took second place. Vela, 
half-brother of Handuna, was extremely shy but by no means 
stupid, he generally tried to get out of doing things, professing 
inability, but when urged by Handuna did everything as well 
as the other men. Kaira, baena (son-in-law) to Handuna, was 
intelligent and talkative and inclined to be boastful. Pema, baena 
to Nila, did not speak much, chiefly we thought because he was 
a young man and had not much to tell, for although he did not 
chatter like Kaira he smiled and did not hang his head when 
addressed, as Vela did. 

Whether staying in a " private " or " communal " cave the 
family life continues in much the same manner. If in a com- 
munal cave, each family keeps strictly within its own limits, 
the women may always be seen at exactly the same spot, and 
when the men come in they sit or lie beside their wives, 
keeping to that part of the cave floor that belongs to them 
as carefully as though there was a partition dividing it from 
that of their neighbours. Figure 2 is a plan of Pihilegodagalge 
showing the actual division of floor space. Food is frequently 
cooked by one woman and shared by all the members of 
the community, in fact, although it might be cooked separately, 
it did not seem that any food was private property. One 
other fact was very noticeable in communal caves, namely, 
that men never kept their bows and arrows in their own 
division, but always put them all together in a particular 


place. The " arsenal " at Bendiyagalge is well seen in 
Plate XIX, figures i and 2, while at Pihilegodagalge all the 
bows and arrows were rested on an old ant heap in the centre 
of the cave. 

Though men do sometimes dig for yams, hunting is essen- 
tially their work, and yams were usually dug by the women 
who also do the cooking. This is of the simplest kind ; yams 
are roasted in ashes, in which way meat may also be cooked, 
while practically everything else is boiled in a pot over three 
stones. Many Veddas also know how to cook curry, and deer's 
flesh is dried on a rack and smoked. A rack is built usually in 
a sunny place, the meat is put on this and a smoky fire kept 
burning beneath it, the flesh is thus dried in the sun and smoked 
simultaneously. This process is usually superintended by men. 

Fig. 2. Plan of Pihilegodagalge. 

Plate XVII, figure i, shows a rack built to smoke meat on the 
top of the Bendiyagalge rock-mass. 

A Vedda will never sleep on the ground if there is any 
rock upon which he can lie. If he has a deerskin or a 
piece of cloth he will lie on it, if not he does not seem to object 
to the cold rock, and so avoids contact with the ground damp 
from the heavy dews. He always keeps a small fire burning 
beside him ; this was noticed by Nevill, who says : " A Vaedda 
never sleeps without a smouldering fire by his side. I am 
assured, should accident oblige them to do so, they have usually 
died from a fever caught by the omission \" 

The Veddas are strictly monogamous, and we were able to 
confirm Bailey's observations as regards their marital fidelity. 
" Their constancy to their wives is a very remarkable trait in 
their character in a country where conjugal fidelity is certainly 
not classed as the highest of domestic virtues. Infidehty, 

1 Taprobanian, Vol. i, Aug. 1886, p. 187. 


whether in the husband or the wife, appears to be unknown, and 
I was very careful in my inquiries on this subject. Had it 
existed, the neighbouring Sinhalese would have had no hesita- 
tion in accusing them of it, but I could not obtain a trace 

The only case of suicide of which we heard took place in 
connection with a breach of the common rule of conjugal fidelity. 
Tissahami,the husband of Kumi, younger sister of the headman 
of the Bandaraduwa Veddas, carried on an intrigue with his 
naena, an unmarried girl named Kirimenike. When his wife 
who was not one of his naena discovered the intrigue, she 
scolded her husband most unmercifully, "Why go to another 
woman while I live ?— better to have gone to your mother than 
her." Although his intrigue with Kirimenike was of old standing, 
Tissahami was so upset with the disgrace of publicity that he 
killed himself in the compound outside his own hut early one 
morning. He had a gun, and holding the muzzle to the supra- 
sternal notch, he pulled the trigger with his toe. The dead man's 
relatives were very angry with Kumi for driving him to despera- 
tion but they did not threaten her, nor in any way molest her. 
Kumi and Kirimenike belonged to the same waruge (Morane) 
but were unrelated. Kirimenike subsequently married a Vedda, 
and went to live at Syringawala where she remained until she 

In every respect the women seem to be treated as the equals 
of the men, they eat the same food; indeed, when_^we gave 
presents of food the men seemed usually to give the women 
and children their share first ; the same applies to areca nut 
and other chewing stuffs. The women are jealously guarded by 
the men, who do not allow traders or other strangers to see 
them, and those at Sitala Wanniya were too shy to visit our 
camp, though they welcomed us to their cave, and the dances 
performed for our benefit took place in the dense jungle so that 
the women might be present and partake of the food offered to 
\)i\Q: yaku. We had offered to clear a space by our camp where 
the light would have been better for photography ; however, the 

> J. Bailey, "Wild Tribes of the Veddahs of Ceylon," iS'^s, Trans. Ethnol. Soc. 
Vol. II, p. 291. 


men explained that though the ceremonies themselves might be 
performed anywhere the women would not come to our camp, so 
the dances must take place at the usual dancing ground in the 
jungle. The day after hearing the phonograph at our camp, the 
men came to us to request that we should take it to the cave as 
they had told their wives about it, and they all wanted to hear 
it too. From these examples the position of Vedda women 
will be understood. 

Writing in 1887 Nevill notices a similar state. "As a rule, 
among the purer Veddas, the younger women are rigorously 
excluded or rather protected from contact with strangers. They 
occupy, however, an honourable and free position in the society 
of their relations. I only once saw the good-looking girls of 
the pure Vedda family. My guide was then ahead of our party 
with me, and abruptly, without explanation further than the 
word 'my house,' dived into the forest, beckoning me to follow. 
We had only gone a few hundred yards from the path, when we 
reached a glade with a little shed. Here a oarty of girls and 
women and children were collected, and at sight of us the 
younger women began to slip away into the woods, but at 
a word from my guide stopped. They then advanced and one 
by one stepped up to me with graceful courtesy, each making 
a Sinhalese bow with both hands when quite close to me, and 
then stepped aside, with or without a few words of simple 
welcome. There was no haste or reluctance, nor any approach 
to curiosity shown. I stopped talking with some of the elder 
women for a short time, and then went on. Three or four of the 
women had most exquisite figures, like statues of Psyche, and 
a clear brown skin. They were bare to the waist, and from the 
knees down. I never saw Vaedda women at all comparable to 
these, and then only did I realise the stories I had heard from 
Sinhalese, of the former great beauty of the Vaedda women. 
On our return, the clan met us by official appointment ; 
but these girls, and one equally statuesque young mother, 
were conspicuously absent, and I saw it was understood I 
should regard my interview as a confidential honour, intention- 
ally arranged to make me feel T was personally trusted and 


" It is probable good-looking women have often been kept 
back by others who had not equal confidence in me ^" 

Veddas are affectionate and indulgent parents, never refusing 
a small child anything it wants and giving it always of the best. 
We have frequently seen men save for their children food which 
had been given to them and which they considered specially 
good, such as bananas or coconuts. The babies are generally 
happy, but should they cry their wishes are immediately gratified 
by either parent. We saw a naked boy of about two and a half 
years strut proudly up and down outside Pihilegodagalge with his 
father's axe hung on his shoulder, he was extremely happy and 
all went well until he threatened one of the dogs with the axe, 
then his mother was obliged to interfere and the child tried to 
hit her with it; the father seeing this got up and tried to coax 
the child into giving up the axe, but the boy was now excited 
and would not give it up, at last he flung it at his father and hit 
his leg. The man was obviously annoyed and threw the axe from 
him into the jungle, but he did not attempt to scold or punish 
the child who was now howling with rage, indeed, after a little 
while some food was given him to pacify him. 

Another time a woman who had been cutting yams with 
a knife put this down, when her baby snatched it up, and 
although she was obliged to watch lest he hurt himself, she 
allowed him to play with the knife. Yet when a child is old 
enough to wear a little rag in the way of clothing, possibly from 
six to eight years old, he is expected to behave himself properly 
and strange to say he does so. One day it was raining heavily, 
and we were all sitting in the rock shelter at Pihilegodagalge ; 
at the further end of the cave we noticed a lad of seven or nine 
years old having a heated argument with his mother, suddenly 
he turned round and went out into the rain, when he returned 
he had controlled his temper ; later we remarked on this and 
were told that the lad was considered old enough to behave as 
a man ; a boy of this age would not hit his mother as a little 
child might do and yet be excused. It may here be mentioned 
that children of both sexes go naked until about six or seven 
years old, though perhaps the general age for the assumption of 

1 Taprobanian, Vol. I, 1886, p. 192. 


clothing is younger in the case of girls than boys. The boy 
assumes a piece of rag attached to a string in the same manner 
as men, while girls wear a piece of stuff fastened round their 
hips like a sarong. A child's first cloth is put on by its mother 
without any ceremony. The only toys seen were bows and 
arrows, and these are possessed by every male child. We never 
saw a little girl play with a bow and arrow, but mothers make 
them for the baby boys while these are still crawling about. 
Such toys of course are small and roughly made, but bigger 
boys of five years old and upwards make quite neat little bows, 
and shoot with them tolerably well ; they do not feather their 
arrows. Other children were seen playing with clay and sticks ; 
and girls frequently play with broken pots with which they 
pretend^ to cook. 

As women take the children with them when they go out to 
dig for yams, little girls soon learn to do this, and boys would 
begin to be taken out hunting when about ten years old. It 
was difficult to find out whether the fathers' or mothers' brothers 
took the greater part in training the boys and it seemed that a lad 
eager to go out hunting would be taken by any grown man, who 
in the very small community is usually a relative. Lads would 
be encouraged by their elders to shoot at a mark with their 
bows and arrows, and later they would stalk small birds and 
shoot fish\ 

When a child tells a lie he may be told " Go away, I do not 
believe what you say," but it appeared that even young children 
were usually truthful. One thing is taught the lads systemati- 
cally, that is the method of collecting honey from the combs of 
the rock bee. Whenever the caves are conveniently situated 
a ladder of creepers is suspended from a tree in the jungle 
above and hangs over the end of the face of rock which forms 
the cave. On this the youths play at " honey getting." At 
Pihilegodagalge the lads were quite willing to demonstrate to 
us how it was done, and the elder men showed clearly that this 

1 ffevill, in the Ttiprobanian (Vol. i, 1886, p. 189), says " a pellet bow is used 

occasionally by small boys, and birds are often shot with it, though the aim seems 
very uncertain." Pellet bows were seen at Henebedda, they are used regularly by the 
Sinhalese in the neighbourhood, and we do not doubt that the practice was introduced 
by them. 


was a game which they encouraged. A lad of about thirteen 
collected some green leaves and tied them together with creeper, 
then taking an arrow, a toy inasliya, and a broken gourd tied 
with creeper, which hung over his arm, for a mahtdevia, he set fire 
to the leaves and climbed the ladder^ While lowering the 
smoker and letting the smoke blow into the crevice in the rock 
where the comb was supposed to be, he pretended to cut round 
its sides with an arrow and thrust at it with his vmsliya (figure 3), 
from which he transferred the honey into the gourd. As he 
descended from the ladder he beat his chest and sides as though 
driving off the bees, and directly he reached the ground rushed 
into the jungle to escape from them, all the smaller children 
imitating him with great glee. Obviously this was a well- 
known and favourite game, for even the elders took part in it, 
throwing their cloths over their heads and running into the 

At Henebedda (which we visited before Pihilegodagalge) 
there were no children present when we spoke about honey 
getting, but four young men were eager to show us how it was 
done and acted the scene with great spirit. They took from 
our camp a piece of white and a piece of brown paper, and 
fastened them with some wax to the roof of their cave, then as 
there was no tree above the cave around which to fasten a 
creeper, one man crouched on the top of the rock and held the 
ends of the ladder in his hands, another stood above and lowered 
a smoker of green leaves while a third climbed the ladder and 
collected the honey from the white paper and the grubs from the 
brown. Afterwards the collector divided the spoil equally and 
amid much laughter they all sat down and pretended to eat, 
one actually going through the pantomime of washing his 
hands after the meal. The y eat_ the _grubs as wett^ as the 

As regards clothing, pedlars have brought them cloth for so 
long that no Vedda living knows what was done when they 
could not buy it, but it is generally stated that they made bark 

1 The nialudeiiia is the vessel made of deerskin in which honey should be collected 
and the masliya the wooden four-pronged implement with which the comb is broken 
up and transferred to the 7nabide7)ia. For figures of inalitdcm i and inasliya, see 
Plate LXV and figure 3 (p. 93) respectively. 



cloth of the riti {Antiaris innoxid) of which material the 

Sinhalese still make rice bags. Men wear a 

rag of " white " cotton about 9 inches wide 

passed between their legs, and held in place by 

each end being passed over a waist string. This 

cotton material they prefer to anything else for 

two reasons, firstly, it very soon becomes a dull 

brown, and hence is less obvious when hunting 

than a coloured cloth would be, secondly, it is 

thin machine-made material from which they 

can easily tear narrow strips for tinder, when 

they make fire. The women wear coloured 

cotton cloth of the kind that is woven at 

Batticaloa, it is a strong material and is not 

easily torn. A single width forms the length of 

their skirt from waist to knee and is fastened 

round their waists like a sarong. Thus, the men's 

preference for " white " and the women's for 

coloured cloth is purely economical, depending 

on the kind of material it has been the pedlar's 

habit to bring. These pedlars visit the wilder 

Veddas once a year after the honey collecting 

season ; they never approach the caves, but when 

within about a quarter of a mile of them they 

shout till a Vedda comes to them, then they 

expose their wares and the Vedda returns to the 

cave to fetch as many pots and gourds of honey 

and as much dried flesh as he is willing to 

exchange. The " silent trade," mentioned by 

Knox \ is now a legend among the Sinhalese 

of which no tradition lingers among the Veddas. 

We have Bailey's evidence that it had ceased 

before 1863, and the old Kandyan we met (see 

p. 31) remembered it only as a tradition in the 

days of the rebellion in 18 18. "They are not 

now, nor have they been for very long, so shy as 

to be prevented from bartering freely enough 

Fig. 3. Toy mas- 
*-f- P- ^- liya xJj (about). 


with the Sinhalese, although, unless for the purpose of barter, 
they avoid intercourse with strangers. Their wants, however, 
are so few, that they rarely emerge from their forests^. 

" I need not say that they are very simple and primitive in 
their habits. The ' wilder sort ' have had too little communica- 
tion with Sinhalese to have acquired the vices of civilization. 
The few necessities of life which the forest does not supply, such 
as steel and iron for their arrowheads and^xes, and the very 
scanty clothing which they wear, they obtain by barter, their 
wax, and honey, elk flesh and ivory, being eagerly sought after 
by the neighbouring Sinhalese, or 'the ubiquitous Moors' I" 

There are no puberty ceremonies for either sex, except among 
certain Veddas who have been much influenced by Tamils or 
Sinhalese, among whom the girls are isolated for a short time at 
puberty. Thus although the following ceremony is observed at 
puberty by the Uniche Veddas, there is no doubt that it has 
been borrowed from the local Sinhalese who have a similar 
ceremony, though according to our information the latter people 
do not break the pot. When a girl becomes unwell for the first 
time one of her naena places a pot of water on her head and goes 
with her to some place where there is a miga tree. Here the 
naena takes the pot from the girl's head and dashes it on the 
ground so that the pot breaks. The girl is then secluded in 
a specially built shelter in which she stays until the end of the 
period, when she washes and returns to her parents' house. 
During her seclusion she is attended by a girl, always one of 
her naena, who brings her food in a vessel set apart for this 
purpose but which is not cooked at a special fire. Among the 
wilder Veddas no special measures are taken when a woman 
menstruates, she is allowed to eat the ordinary food, and to 
sleep in the cave as usual. But among all the village Veddas, 
and most of those who have mixed at all with the Sinhalese, the 
menstruous women are strictly isolated, a little shelter being 
built for them a few paces from the family hut (Plate XX). At 
Bendiyagalge, where the Henebedda and Kolombedda people 
were staying at the time of our visit, menstruous women stayed 
apart at one corner of the cave, they were fed from the pot in 
1 Bailey, op. cit. p. 285—286. 2 Bailey, op. cit. p. 29T. 

Plate XX 

Rough shelter built for isolation of women at Unuwatura Bubula 


which the food for the community was cooked, but we do not 
think they would touch it or assist in any way in the cooking. At 
Omuni a menstruous woman is isolated under a rough shelter 
where she is waited upon by a younger unmarried sister or 
cousin who, it was stated, should not herself have attained 
puberty. During her seclusion she may eat any food cooked at 
the ordinary fire, but a special platter is kept for her use. The 
girls who look after her suffer no restrictions. This happens 
every time a girl or woman menstruates. 

Marriage takes place at an early age ; it was said that girls 
sometimes married before puberty, and as we heard of this at 
Henebedda, Bandaraduwa, and Omuni, we see no reason to 
doubt the truth of the statement \ At Omuni it was pointed 
outjthat a certain amount of breast development was necessary 
before marriage, so that it is probable that connection does not 
antedate puberty by more than a short time. 

With regard to the frequency of such child marriages, we 
can only say that we never saw any very young girls with 
babies. Perhaps at the present day prenuptial connection is 
more common than marriage between the very young, though 
it is obviously difficult to decide when prenuptial love-making 
between individuals destined for each other gives place to 
marriage, among people whose marriages are accompanied with 
but slight ceremony. Itjnust be remembered that the marriage 
vgift of landed or personal property to a son-in-law, which was 
formerly customary, is obsolescent at the present day, and 
this not only makes it more difficult to determine whether 
marriage has taken place, but probably actually tends to make 
the exact time of the assumption of the married state less 
clearly defined. 

On account of these considerations we are unable to express 
any definite opinion as to the frequency of prenuptial connec- 
tion, the few instances we heard of were between individuals 
occupying the relationship of Jmra and naena, who would in any 
case marry each other. Thus Kaira of Henebedda and his wife 
grew up in the same group, and as they had played together as 

1 We are indebted to Mr Frederick Lewis for the information that this is a common 
practice among Tamils. 


children so they came together as they grew up. The com- 
munity came to know of what had occurred, the couple were 
considered married, and now go about together. We were 
told that no resentment was felt or expressed by the girl's 
parents or the community, and there was no formal giving over 
of land or property to Kaira by his father-in-law, because, 
as was pointed out, the fathers of Kaira and Hudi both 
belonged to the same group and together moved about over the 
same land. 

We think it may be said that among most Veddas at the 
present day, especially such as have come in contact with the 
Sinhalese, there is no violent feeling against prenuptial connec- 
tion of the sort here described, but we believe that formerly 
public opinion was definitely and strongly against the practice, 
though on this point we do not attempt to dogmatise. There 
was no doubt as to the attitude of public opinion towards con- 
nection between people who were not allotted to each other. 
This was, and still is, strongly disapproved, and there is no 
doubt that in the old days the guilty parties risked their lives. 
It was, however, clear that intrigues of this sort did sometimes 
occur, and we heard of two instances of what are regarded as 
incestuous unions which occurred among the Kovil Vanamai 
Veddas some fifty or sixty years ago. In both cases the girls 
cohabited with their mothers' sisters' sons, and in both instances 
the guilty parties were promptly killed by the outraged group. 
The men were set upon in the jungle, their own fathers it was 
said taking a prominent part in the assault, while the girls were 
killed in the huts in which they were living^ 

As already mentioned the correct marriage among the 
Veddas, as among the Sinhalese, is for a man to marry his 

^ The matter has been well stated by Nevill who writing more than twenty years 
ago says: "The Vaeddas marry young, and are strict monogamists. Consequently 
the husband and wife are watchfully jealous, each of the other, and love-intrigues are 
few and far between. Nothing short of murder would content the injured party. 
This strict morality extends to unmarried girls, who are protected by their guardians 
with the keenest sense of honour" ( Taprobaniatj, Vol. I, p. 1 78). We do not, however, 
agree even partially with his statement as to the considerable liberty allowed to 
widows, we believe that among the wilder Veddas their morality was as strict as that 
of the maidens and it must be remembered that it was, and is, unusual for any but old 
women to remain vvidows for any length of time. 


father's sister's daughter. The children of two sisters or of two 
brothers could not marry, and such a connection would be 
considered incestuous. Thespian goes to his future father-in-law 
with a present of hojiey^ yams, grain or dried deer's flesh tied to his 
unstrung bow^hich he uses as a carrying stick. Whether he 
generally repeats this visit or receives his bride immediately was 
not clear, and probably the custom varies in this particular. 
Handuna of Godatalawa told us that he did not take his bride 
away until he had twice taken a present of food to his mother's 
brother (father-in-law). The bride gives her spouse a waist 
string of her own making which he never removes until it is 
worn out, when he replaces it with another made by his wife. 
In these particulars the marriage ceremony was essentially 
similar fifty years ago when it was described by Bailey. " The 
bachelor Veddah who meditates matrimony, himself selects the 
lady of his choice, wisely preferring his own judgement to that 
of others ; and providing himself with the greatest ' delicacies 
of the season,' for example, a pot of honey and a dried iguano, 
proceeds to her father's hut and states the object of his visit. 
There being no objection to the proposed alliance, the father 
calls his daughter, who comes forth with a cord of her own 
twisting in her hand. She ties this round the bridegroom's 
waist, and they are man and wife. The man always wears this 
string. Nothing would induce him to part with it. When it 
wears out it is the wife's duty to twist a new one and bind it 
round him ^" 

When a girl married, her "father usually m.ade over to his 
son-in-law a tract of land, generally a hill known to be inhabited 
by colonies of the bambara or rock bee {Apis indicd), or gave him 
a 'piece of personal property such as a bow or one or two arrows. 
The instances in which land was given are described in the 
section on land transference, so that here it is only necessary 
to mention instances in which personal property was given. 
Handuna received a bow and one arrow from his father-in-law 
who when presenting them accompanied his gift with the remark 
" With this bow you must get food for my daughter." Some- 
times a dog is given, and Knox was certainly right when he 

~~~~~~ — ^ J. Bailey, op. cit. p. 293. 

s. V. 7 


said " For portions with their Daughters in marriage they give 
hunting Dogs." Among the village Veddas of Bintenne we 
heard that an axe or catty was sometimes given, though the 
Arachi of Belligala, who has been much in contact with the 
Dambani Veddas, stated that these sometimes presented land 
to their sons-in-law. 

In one settlement of village Veddas, Bulugahaladena, we 
were told that the bridegroom takes a first present to the bride's 
father and leaves his bow and arrow in his hut until his second 
visit with further presents some four days later. At the same 
place the waist string is sometimes charmed to ensure constancy. 
Among many of the village Veddas the custom of the gift of 
the waist string is dying out, and the bridegroom gives the bride 
a cloth as is the custom among the Sinhalese. 

Another custom no,w dying out appears to .be„the g ift from 
the bridegroom to the bride of a lock of hair, presented at the 
same time as the food to the girl's father. 

We discovered at Bendiyagalge that it is a common practice 
for women to wear false hair. Here we were told that it was 
merely worn in order to make the knot look important, but only 
by married women. It is improbable that the habit should have 
arisen among a people so careless of personal appearance as are 
the Veddas had it no other significance than adornment, for it 
must be remembered that these folk never brush or oil their 
hair, or even wash it ; indeed, some consider the last operation 
extremely dangerous, so that the ornamental value of a vt 
small wisp of hair may reasonably be doubted. Extra locks of 
hair are worn by Sinhalese women, and we have seen some 
hanging in the verandah of a mud hut in a small jungle village, 
but among them it is a very different matter. They are usually, 
and very rightly, proud of their masses of long glossy hair, 
which they comb and oil carefully. A naturally large knot 
is considered a beauty, especially when stabbed with a jewelled 
pin, and girls as well as married women will wear an extra 
lock to produce this effect, but that the custom should have 
been introduced from the Sinhalese with no other object 
than that of personal adornment, about which the Veddas 
seem to care so little^ seems as improbable as does the 

^ The Vedda attitude towards ornament generally is treated on p. 205. 

Plate XXI 

Locks of hair presented to brides at marriage 


hypothesis that it should have arisen among them solely for 
that object. 

We believe that a lock of hair, either from his own head or 
from his sister's, was a customary present from the bridegroom to 
the bride, and therefore to be considered part of the wedding 
ceremony. The evidence obtained at Bendiyagalge, though not 
directly bearing out this point of view, supports the hypothesis 
when considered in conjunction with the information given us at 
Sitala Wanniya. The wife of old Poromala at Bendiyagalge 
wore a piece of hair which Poromala had given her. He had 
not cut it off his own head but had saved the hair which had 
come out when combing his hair with his hands, and Handi his 
wife considered this tail of hair as a valuable possession and said 
she would leave it to her eldest married daughter when she died. 
She told us that a woman would burn her lock of hair if she had 
no daughters. She also said that women would only wear hair 
from their husbands' heads and laughed at the idea of a man 
wearing an extra piece of hair, although the men usually wear 
their hair in the same way as the women. 

At Sitala Wanniya each married man was questioned 

Handuna, the oldest man and our best informant, said that 
in former days a lock of hair was always given by the bridegroom 
to the bride, and if he did not offer it, the young girl might ask 
for it and insist upon having it. In that case the prospective 
bridegroom would have to cut it off his own head, if his sister 
happened tx> be away at the time or if he had no sister, for it 
was her duty to give one to her brother if she knew that he 
wanted it for a wedding gift. A man would always be loath to 
cut his hair, and there are special regulations against this for 
shamans, so if the girl is willing to accept him without his 
present, and he is unable to obtain it from his sister or naena, 
the gift will be allowed to lapse. This happened when both 
Handuna and Vela married. No man would give hair to anyone 
except his wife. Kaira gave his wife a lock of hair when he 
was married, and he obtained it in the following way. He said 
that when discussing the matter of his future marriage at home, 
and feeling sore at having no hair to give his bride, his younger 



sister said, " Don't be sorry, I will give you a lock of my hair," 
She cut a lock from her own head, which he kept until his 
marriage when he gave it to his wife while she was still at her 
father's cave. Then he took her to his own cave where she 
made him a waist string on the second or third day after 
marriage. To his sister who was then unmarried he gave an 
axe out of giatitude. Nila cut a lock from his head to give 
his wife, as his sister was away at the time he was married, 
otherwise she would have given him one. Pema did not give 
his wife any hair as her mother had given her some. 

Among the village Veddas at Unuwatura Bubula the custom 
of giving hair as a wedding gift was not known, yet the shaman's 
wife had a lock which her mother had given her. She assured 
us that only married women might wear it. 

Anything like a formal divorce is unknown, but we heard of 
one instance occurring three generations ago, in which a woman 
who had gone to live with her husband left him and returned to 
her parents. The daughter of a Bingoda man, whose nickname 
Kupunkarea is still remembered, was given to a boy nicknamed 
Kankuna " Sore Eyes." As he was lazy and took no trouble to 
support his wife, so that she was frequently obliged to go to her 
parents for food, they kept her with them. Kankuna was very 
angry, but he did not threaten violence or attempt to bring back 
his wife by force. Later she was given to a Vedda of Bandaraduvva 
and after his death she went to live with a Sinhalese. It was 
said that she was an unusually pretty girl. 

It is quite certain that polyandry .aever existed among 
uncontaminated Veddas, but at Henebedda we met with one 
case that must, we think, be called by this name. Before 
relating this we may, however, call attention to the fact that 
polyandry is a tolerably common practice among the Sinhalese 
peasants of the Vedirata, as ir is among the less educated classes 
in other parts of the island K 

1 Cf. Papers on the Custom of Polyandry as practised in Ceyloti, Government 
Record Office, Colombo, in which Mr R. W. levers, speaking of the Kegalla district^ 
says : — " Having been for six years in charge of a Kandyan district (Kegalla), and 
having to deal with land cases involving rights of inheritance, and having, as Registrar 
of Kandyan Marriages, to hear divorce cases, I have found that the custom of 
polyandry was almost universal ; and that in the case of a marriage registered under 


The individuals concerned in the polyandrous marriage at 
Henebedda are Handuna (8), the Vidane Appuhami (4), and 
Kandi (io)\ It will be seen from the genealogy that Handuna 
and Appuhami are the sons of a brother and sister, both have 
intercourse with Kandi, though the latter is nominally the w'ife 
of Handuna who is the older man. Kandi is an unusually 
pretty woman and considerably younger than either. We were 
told that Appuhami at one time lived with Badeni (11), his 
father's sister's grandchild, but was compelled to give her up on 
account of the jealousy displayed by Kandi. 

We have already pointed out that a man spends much of his 
time with his father-in-law, i.e. with his wife's people, hunting and 
wandering with them and having perfectly free access to his 
father-in-law's hunting ground and fishing pools ; at Sitala 
Wanniya we were told that after a few days spent in a shelter 
on the territory in the man's community to which the bride- 
groom carried his bride on first receiving her, the young 
couple should return to the bride's group. Even at the present 
day this is the case to a great extent, though among settled 
communities as at Bandaraduwa there is a tendency for the 
women to come to the man's community and stay there with 
him I 

Pregnancy is diagnosed after two menstrual periods have 
been missed. The change in the breasts is not noticed. Birth 
takes place in the cave (unless labour should come on suddenly 
and occur in the jungle) ; no screen is put up, and any woman 
will assist the parturient woman; the cord is cut with an arrow — 
the common tool used for all cutting purposes — and the after- 
birth is thrown away. The umbilicus is treated with cloth 
and ashes, and the portion ofT:he umbilical cord which drops 
frojnjthe navel is not preserved. We n ever heard of a case 
of twins. 

During labour the patient leans back with one shoulder or 

the Ordinance the name of the elder brother was given as that of the bridegroom, but 
everyone was aware that the girl would regard the other brothers as being equally her 

^ The numbers in parentheses refer to the genealogy on p. 60. 

^ Both beena and diga marriages occur among the peasant Sinhalese but, according 
to Mr BibiJe, diga marriage is the common practice. 


side supported by an angle of the rock, and a woman behind 
her supports her and presses down upon her shoulders. The 
woman remains in the cave for three or four days after the 
birth. At Sitala Wanniya there are no food taboos, but at 
Henebedda a pregnant woman avoids inadu, which fruits are 
said to produce diarrhoea and vomiting, and two kinds of 
yams which also purge and are believed to induce still-birth. 
A nursing mother must eat neither the fat of the monitor lizard 
nor rilawa flesh, as these are said to produce purging and would 
kill the infant. She may, however, eat the meat of the grey ape 
wandtiru. The fat of the spotted deer also spoils the milk, and 
if the mother eats mora fruit the child will get worms. The 
Henebedda Veddas, who are partially cave and hut dwellers, 
say that if a birth occurs in the cave a screen is made round 
the parturient woman. Among all the settled Veddas, as among 
the rural Sinhalese, a special hut is built in which birth occurs. 
The afterbirth is commonly buried in the hut among village 
Veddas, and no Veddas seem to attach any special importance 
to its disposal. 

At Uniche a pregnant woman would not eat venison or hare's 
flesh. The pains and danger of childbirth are so well recognised 
by the Veddas that a special ceremony is performed by the wilder 
Veddas, and a prayer offered for the safety of the young mother 
(cf p. 251). We were assured at Sitala Wanniya that if this 
ceremony were omitted the mother and child would die. At 
Henebedda it was said that if a woman appeared to be danger- 
ously ill in childbed, a Sinhalese katandirale (devil dancer) 
would be called in. Death ^luring childbirth seemed fare, but 
a few cases were recorded. Except among those Veddas who 
havercome most under Sinhalese influence connection is not 
avoided during pregnancy, or for any considerable period after 
childbirth, narJS-Chastity enforced before hunting or dancing, „ 

Children are usually named within a month of their birth, 
the name being decided upon by their parents. At Godatalawa 
it was said that a child's name would be freely mentioned, but 
at Sitala Wanniya and Henebedda we were told that, although 
every child was given a name soon after birth, they were never 
called or spoken of by their names until they were at least four 


or five years old. Before this they were called Tuta (male) and 
'puti (female), i.e. "little one," and these expressions may persist 
and replace their proper names which in many instances seem 
to be forgotten, so that some children appeared to have no name 
at all. Small babies may be called Goraka or Gorakki, because 
they are reddish in colour, and so resemble the gorakka 
fruit {Garcinia cambogid). Apparently these names are not 
applied for more than the first few months after birth. __It 
was said that the reason the names of young children were 
avoided was that to mention their names might attract the 
attention of evilly disposed yaku who might make the child ill 
or even kill it. We did not ascertain what were the names 
of the yakii who it was feared might injure the children, but 
it must be assumed that these spirits belonged to the third 
stratum of the Vedda religion defined on p. 149, and are 
either foreign spirits who have been adopted without losing their 
dangerous attributes, or the spirits of remote female ancestors 
{kiriamma) who sometimes steal children. 

At Bandaraduwa, where there was much foreign influence, 
we had an example of the belief in the inadvisability of bringing 
children too closely in contact with the yaku. This is recorded 
on p. 216. 

At Omuni we were told that in the old days there was no 
fixed time for the naming of a child. The father and mother 
give the child its name, usually choosing that of an ancestor, 
for there is no harm in speaking or using the name of a dead 
relative when the name is given to a child ; thus our informant, 
the headman of Omuni, calls his second child by the name 
of his own dead father, though in his lifetime he would have 
addressed his father by his kinship term. Our informant gave 
his father's name to his second child, not to his first, because his 
father was alive when his first son was born. A woman's name 
is generally given to a granddaughter born after her death. 
Children are also commonly named after their maternal and 
paternal aunts and uncles. 

The following lists of the names of males and females 
were given me by Mr Bibile and Tissahami, the Vedda Arachi ; 
they were all said to be good Vedda names, and many of 


them were avowedly the names of dead Veddas, but with the 
exception of those printed in italics, they are none of them 
common Vedda names, as tested by their occurrence at the 
present day. 

Names of males : Poromala, Sulliya, Karakolaya, Nila, 
Kauwa, Boda, Mola, Pubbara, Kona, Dinga, Kalnwa, Hakken- 
daya, Hapuwa, Bammuna, Peruma, Gobira, Badena, Kaira, 
Kudahanniya, Naga. 

Names of females : Bemmini, Tikki, Nagi, Suwadi, Mittu, 
Viyani, Tandi, Hendi, Pinchi, Kalu, Selli, Burati, Milalani, 
Kalumal nangi, Nilmal nangi, Kanni, Kalati, Poiomali, Aem- 
bali^ Nambadi\ Uri\ Kendi, Gobire, Badani, Kiri. 

In addition to the above the following occur in our notes. 

Males : Randu Wanniya, Sita Wanniya, Poromasaka, Han- 
duna, Kanda, Wannaku, Vela, Rata(?), Tiki(?), Hereta(?). 

Females : Kandi, Bevini. 

Nicknames are common among men, but we did not learn 
of any instance in which a woman was given one. Nicknames 
generally refer to physical peculiarities of the individuals to 
whom they are applied. Poromala, the half of whose face had 
been torn away by a bear, is usually called Walaha, i.e. bear. 
An old man of Namadewa clan was called Ukusa, because his 
hair appears ruffled like the feathers of an owl {kiisa), and 
Randunu Wanniya, the shaman of the Henebedda community, 
was nicknamed Uchia from the verb iichenawa, to raise up, 
because after falling down in the shamanistic dances in which 
he is protagonist he must be raised up by his fellows. 

Other nicknames of the immediate ancestors of living Veddas 
we met were: Mahakata, "big mouth"; Ogapalua, "loud talker," 
literally, one w^ho yells; Nakakuna, "stinking nose," applied to 
a man with ozasna ; Nemma, " bent " ; Kankuna, " sore eyes " ; 
and Kapunkarea, " man who cuts down trees." Although nick- 
names did not altogether replace their owners' real names, men 
were often called by them, and the frequency with which certain 
names such as Poromala and Handuna occur, often made them 
a real convenience. 

^ These only mean woman of the Aembala, Namadewa and Uru clans re- 


Adoption is not practised, for the custom of a near relative 
looking after children who have lost their parents cannot be 
called by this name. 

Dances play no part in the domestic life of the Veddas, 
for, although Veddas may perform a few steps of a dance as 
a sign of pleasure, their dances are mostly if not entirely 



All Veddas have a keen sense of ownership, and this is 
equally developed with regard to the hunting land of the group 
and the possessions of the individual. It was clear that of old 
the boundaries of the former were accurately known to all the 
men of the group and were seldom disregarded except in pursuit 
of a wounded animal, a contingency especially provided for by 
the Vedda game laws, and many writers have borne testimony 
to the unwillingness of Veddas to trespass on the territory of 
another group. 

This was noted by Knox, whose remarks on this subject 
have already been quoted on p. 7. The next mention of 
this important feature in the organization of the Veddas is 
made by the Dutch Governor of Ceylon, Ryklof van Goens 
(1664 — 1675), the following account being taken from the 
Drs Sarasin : " The jungle is so divided among the Veddas 
that every one can easily recognise his boundary... they leave, 
however, comfortable roads through the interior of their country^ 
for their own purposes as well as for strangers who are obliged 
to travel from the hills to the plains and vice versa. Don Juan 
de Costa has told us of such a journey made in the service of 
Rajah Singha. It was 45 years ago (consequently in 1630) 
that he descended from the mountains to these Veddah districts. 
There he was stopped by an archer who was accompanied by 
others who, armed in a similar manner, stood under the trees. 
The first enquired his business, whither he intended travelling 
and what was his mission, whereupon he explained his purpose. 
He had then to wait there between one and two hours until 


word arrived from the elder of the district. Then one of the 
archers accompanied him to the boundary which took between 
two and three hours' walking. Here he had once more to wait 
until word arrived from the elders of this district, whereupon 
the first guide handed him over to a second and then returned. 
In this way the second guide brought him to a third, and the 
process continued until he had had more than twelve guides, 
being over seven days on the way before he reached the province 
of Batticaloa and the flat district which extended to the coast, 
and is inhabited by Tamils. He and his ten or twelve com- 
panions never suffered any want on the way, as the Veddahs 
supplied them with food, consisting of good dried venison which 
w-as preserved in honey, ground nuts (probably yams) and fruit. 
But none of the Veddahs spoke a word with him or his com- 
panions because it was so prescribed by their customs\" 

Nevill's account of the life led by both the wilder and the 
more sophisticated " forest " Veddas has been quoted on pp. 
81 and 82, in the chapter on family Life. Nevill's experience 
was chiefly gained among the Veddas of the Bintenne, but if 
rather less emphasis be laid on the hut built "close to a place 
where water can be got," and it be realised that even during the 
hot dry season rock shelters are the common homes of the wilder 
Veddas to the east of the Badulla-Batticaloa road, all that he 
says on this subject can be implicitly accepted. 

Commenting upon Nevill's account, the Sarasins point out 
that since trespassing on land belonging to another group leads 
to fierce quarrels, the condition described by Nevill must be 
taken to imply that the territory of each group includes the 
whole or a part of one considerable hill or rock massif. Our 
experience enables us to confirm this suggestion, and it will be 
shown later that not only are hills the property of particular 
groups, but that subject to the rights of the group there is also 
personal property in hills. Text figure 4 is a sketch map of 
the territory of the Henebedda Veddas, and roughly shows the 
position of their caves, which are named Bendiyagalge, Pattiavela- 
galge, Hitibeminigalge, Punchikiriammagalge, Uhapitagalge, 
Maladeniyagalge and Kirawanbalagalge. The last is almost 

1 op. cit. p. 479. 



too small and too exposed to be called a shelter, consisting as 
it does of a small space under an overhanging slab which offers 
scarcely any protection from the weather, for which reason it 
seemed that it was never used. Bendiyagalge, situated about 
the centre of the Henebedda territory, consists of two rock 

81° «' 


J mile 

DAN (GALA -|{ jo^>^%7v.,\ 

%■'':: ■ ■■ ■ .>>'-.l'j- 
'''''■",'::::' '"J:-''':'.--')':'- :■ 


a C«<r^ 

/« A'*«l<iiinn4 'PWl>BuT\aa]o«^ 


Fig. 4. Plan of the Henebedda territory. 


shelters formed by a single mass of rock, broadly speaking 
rectangular in shape, with its long axis running roughly from 
north to south. The rock mass is somewhat tilted so that 
its southern edge is high above the talaiva towards which its 
northern extremity slopes, and the whole rock somewhat 
resembles an immense wedge. Its eastern face has weathered 


SO as to form two rock shelters, each of which has a well-cut 
drip ledge in no respect differing from those admittedly cut by 
the Sinhalese about the time that Buddhism was introduced to 
the island, and the lower cave has in addition two square sockets 
cut in its roof resembling those discovered by Mr F. Lewis at 
Nuwaragala and figured by him^ Further, there are three steps 
cut in the solid rock shelters, and other smaller steps and signs 
of ancient working are to be found in the caves, though there 
are no inscriptions on the rocks of either of these caves, as there 
are below the drip ledge of Uhapitagalge. 

Pattiavelagalge lies at a distance of rather less than an hour's 
walk to the S.W. of Bendiyagalge, at the base of the rocky hills 
forming the boundary of the territory of the Henebedda com- 
munity. It was said that the name of this cave was derived 
from pattia, a place where cattle were tied, and vela, a field, 
the reason for the name being that about 100 years ago a 
Sinhalese chief, recognised by the Veddas as being partly of 
Vedda descent, was allowed to come and live here and pasture 
his cattle. This man may have been a fugitive during the 
rebellion of 18 18, but this could not be determined with 
certainty. Hitibeminigalge lies a short distance due west of 

Punchikiriammagalge is a small shelter situated almost due 
south of Bendiyagalge and near the main track across the 
country. At the present day it is often used by Tamil gall-nut 
gatherers. Maladeniyagalge, about two miles from Ambilinne 
rest-house, is also much used by gall-nut collectors. Uhapita- 
galge, shown in Plate XVII, figure 2, has a well-carved drip 
ledge, beneath which is the inscription in Brahmi characters 
referred to on p. 22. . 

The natural boundaries of the Henebedda territory as well 
as the fact that they still have as neighbours the Danigala 
Veddas, who exercise a jealous supervision of the border on that 
side on which there is no well-marked natural boundary, made 
this particularly easy territory to map out. The Sitala Wanniya 
territory, which we have attempted to delimit in text figure 5 
was more difficult and its boundary is only an approximation. 

1 Proc. Roy. As. Soc, Ceylon Branch, Vol. XIX, 1907, 

















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Nevill has pointed out that besides the territory of the group 
which is common land, every Vedda has "within this... a sub- 
division of his own which compares with the manor." In this he 
is no doubt right, though it was only at Sitala Wanniya that 
we were able to trace even approximately the hunting grounds 
belonging to individuals, which are theirs for the whole of their 
life, and descend to their heirs unless voluntarily alienated with 
the full consent of the group. So well is private ownership in 
a portion of land belonging to the group recognised in this 
community, that a man would not hunt even on his brother's 
land without the latter's permission ; and if game started and 
wounded on his own land were killed on another man's domain, 
the man on whose territory the animal died would be given a 
portion of the flesh, apparently that side of the animal which 
touched the ground as the animal lay dead. Among other 
Veddas it was said half, or more generally a quarter, of the 
animal belonged to the man on whose land it died. 

At Sitala Wanniya we not only found particular hills regarded 
as the property of individuals, but besides the big cave Pihile- 
godagalge, which was the property of the whole group of five 
families, there were smaller caves which were the property of 
the heads of individual families to which no others would have 
been welcomed, even had they thought of intruding. An 
exception was, however, made in the case of a man's baena (son- 
in-law), who we were told would naturally come and go as he 

As has been shown in the chapter on Family Life, presents 
are often given at marriage, and these may take the form of 
personal property or hills or pools. In this section we shall deal 
with such transfers of real property, which in normal circum- 
stances were made only to children and sons-in-law, and even 
then were not made over without the assent of every adult male 
member of the group. As this difficult subject does not lend 
itself to a general description, we shall limit ourselves to 
giving actual instances of land transfer with which we became 

When Vela of Sitala Wanniya married a woman of Bingoda 
his father-in-law gave him a piece of land in Marniye paiigjia 


with a hill on it containing a cave called Marniyegalge and a 
number of bainbara colonies. He was also given a number of 
pools in a river in Damenegama\ 

Handuna of Godatalawa on his marriage was given a hill 
with a cave in it called Balatgalagalge. This was handed over 
to him by his father-in-law and the gift carried with it the sole 
right to take rock honey on the hill, which was known to be the 
home of six swarms of bajiibara. Kaira Hudubandar son-in-law 
of Handuna of Godatalawa received on his first marriage a big 
pool in the Tota Oya river. 

When Kumi the sister of the Vidane of Bandaraduwa married 
Tissahami, the bride's parents made over to her the hill Rajahele 
near Walimbagala, upon which there were about ten banibara 
colonies. Kumi also received Nalle Kotanwala, a stretch or 
pool — we could not determine which — in the Kalugal Oya. 
They also gave her husband the hill called Kuda Rasahele upon 
which six combs of the rock bee were known. 

When Badapisi married, her father gave her husband Sinawa 
a hill called Bala Attahele on which there were known to be 
eight bambara colonies and a pool called Adanewala in the 
Kalugal Oya. 

Tissahami the Vidane of Bandaraduwa received on his 
marriage the hill Maha Yakini Hela, upon which there were 
over twenty known bambara colonies^. 

With regard to these gifts of land we must record that 
although a man divides his landed property equally between his 
children in preparation for his death, property given at marriage 
to a son-in-law is counted as the daughter's share when the time 
comes for a man to make his final disposition. 

When the land belonging to a Vedda group was not defined 
by natural features, such as a stream or hill, a mark representing 
a man with a drawn bow was cut upon the trunks of trees along 
the boundary line. It is doubtful whether these marks are 

1 We believe this was a small stream, and the right to fish in it was not highly 
valued, partly perhaps because not many fish were caught, but also because Veddas 
do not often eat fish when they can get other flesh. 

'^ The numbers of colonies of rock bees mentioned in these accounts are probably 
inaccurate, except perhaps in the case of the Bandaraduwa hills, for most Veddas 
became confused when attempting to count above five or iiX. 

Plate XXII 

Fig. I. Portion of Pihilegodagalge belonging to Kaira 

Fig. 2. Boundary mark cut by Handuna of Sitala Wanniya 



made at the present day, but Handuna readily cut with his axe 
the mark shown in Plate XXII, figure 2, and of which a drawing 
to scale is given in text figure 6. 

The sign of transfer of a hill, pool, or piece of land, was a 
stone ; we heard of this from so many independent sources that 
we have no doubt that this was formerly the universal custom, 

Fig. 6. Boundary mark. 

but it was not until we reached Sitala Wanniya that we found 
people among whom this sign of land transfer was still in vogue. 
Here Handuna showed us a stone — a water-worn quartz pebble 
about the size of a filbert — which he assured us represented the 
" seisin " of his hunting ground. Besides one or more stones 
a tooth was commonly given to the new owner by the man 
handing over the land, but this was not essential, and if the 
s. V. 8 


donor had not kept his old teeth as they fell out no attempt was 
made to find a substituted 

It was said that sometimes the donor would add his flint and 
steel to the stone and tooth ; we believe, though we are not 
certain, that this was only done when land was passed as the 
result of a death, in which case a lock of hair from the head of 
the dying man was added to the other objects and became a 
most important part of the " seisin." The lock of hair would 
only be cut from the head of the sick or dying man at his own 
request by the man to whom his land would pass, who would 
cut the lock with an arrow. It was necessary that the sick man 
should be conscious and that he should himself give the lock to 
his heir, to whom he might say, " If there is any dispute after 
my death show this to whoever gives you trouble." Plate XXIII 
represents the " seisin " of certain land at Damenegama given 
by the last Vedda of the group to whom the land in question 
belonged, to the father of Tissahami the Vedda Arachi referred 
to on p. 41. The "seisin" here shown consists of a lock of 
hair, a tooth, a metal strike-a-light and a piece of milky quartz. 
All these objects were sent for our inspection in an old Kandyan 
embroidered betel bag in which it was said they were always 
kept, but we had no opportunity of discussing their significance 
with the Arachi and thus cannot say whether the quartz stone 
belongs to the strike-a-light or is an essential part of the "seisin." 
It was explained that a Vedda would not give land to a Sinhalese 
under ordinary circumstances, but only when a Vedda is the 
last of his folk and knows not where to turn for food and shelter. 
The father of the Arachi only obtained the Damenegama land 
because the last of the local Veddas was a very old man, so 
forlorn and feeble that he could no longer provide for himself 
and his wife. He accordingly made over his land to the father 
of the Arachi, in return for food and shelter for the rest of his 
and his wife's days. Probably the fact that the man who took 
over the land had Vedda blood in his veins and had always 
associated with the Veddas made the transaction easier. 

^ Teeth are generally kept. Some of the older Veddas were literally very " long 
in the tooth''; as the gvims recede in old age the teeth loosen and fall out [pyorrhoea 
alveolaris) . 

Plate XXIII 

Seisin consisting of hair, tooth, quartz fragment, and strike-a-light 


The near relations, including sons-in-law of the dying man, 
would come to him when death was expected, and it was a 
matter of duty for the sons or other near relatives to send 
information of a man's dangerous illness to his sons-in-law, and 
the latter would be justly angry if this information were withheld 
from them. We were never able to determine whether a son-in- 
law actually benefited by being present at his father-in-law's 
death, we believe that his presence was only an act of pious 
duty, and that he derived no increased right to the dead man's 
property by this. Certainly the land which came to a man at 
his marriage from his father-in-law would not be given to 
anyone else by the latter on his deathbed ; we have, however, 
some reason to think that the unmarried sons of a man's sisters 
might, as the result of their attendance at their potential father- 
in-law's death-bed, be given land which otherwise would not 
have come to them until their marriage, or perhaps not at all. 
Handuna of Sitala Wanniya thought that a sick man might 
sometimes give his son-in-law a lock of his hair, but unfortunately 
it was not possible to discover under what circumstances, if any, 
this occurred. That land was commonly given to sons and not 
to sons-in-law by a dying man was clear from the very explicit 
statement made by Handuna, " My sons will naturally take my 
stones as evidence of their right to possess my land." With 
regard to the division of land between a man's children, it was 
pointed out that most people made their wishes on this point 
clear during their lifetime and it must always be remembered 
that no landed property passed without the consent of the grown 
men of the group. 

It seemed that the borders of each group's territory were so 
well known to all the members that quarrels concerning land 
were very rare, trespassing upon another man's domain was 
almost unknown, though when it did occur it was strongly 
resented. Knox's account of something very like a pitched 
battle between two parties of Veddas which has already been 
quoted on p. 7 shows this, and we were everywhere told that 
until a few years ago a man trespassing on the territory of 
others might have been shot without fear of this provoking 



The care with which the seclusion of the rock-shelter is 
still maintained probably belongs to a different category of 
ideas, and is an example of the jealousy with which Vedda 
women are guarded. 

At Sitala Wanniya we heard of the following method of settling 
disputes concerning boundaries, though Handuna my informant 
had never known of any example of a difficulty of this kind 
arising, and had only heard of the method of settling them from 
his father and father-in-law. When two Veddas, or groups of 
Veddas, are not satisfied as to the position of a boundary, the 
disputants each bring their " seisin " stone to the land over which 
the quarrel has arisen. Here the stones are placed in pots 
upon supports of the kind used in the Nae Yaku ceremony 
at Bandaraduwa (Plate XXXVI, figure i). When this has 
been done the disputants invoke certain spiritual agencies, 
but who these are my informants could not tell me. As a result 
of this, a wild animal, usually an elephant, would come and 
destroy the pot set up by the party wrongfully claiming the 
tract of land. 

Every Vedda has one or two dogs with which he does not 
readily part, though with characteristic generosity he is ever 
willing to give away pups to any of his friends or relatives. 
Vedda dogs are invariably well fed and well treated, and it was 
clear that the warmest feelings exist between a man and his 
dogs. As evidence of the importance of dogs in the community 
we may cite their use as wedding gifts and refer to the process 
of anointing them with a part of the offering dedicated to the 
yakii described in Chapter VI. Bailey's account of the relation 
of Vedda dogs to their masters brings out so much of this feeling 
that it is quoted here at length. " They have dogs perfectly 
trained to follow up and pull down the wounded deer. These 
they value highly ; but they are of no distinct breed and do not 
differ from the ordinary country dogs. But it would appear 
that at a time when hunting was of more importance to them 
than it is now, the dog was more valued 

" But dogs are still prized by the Veddah. Of all his 
possessions he values most his bow, which is placed under his 
head when he sleeps ; and next in his estimation is the dog who 


guards it, sleeping always at his master's head. ' What would 
you do,' I asked a Veddah once, 'if your bow were stolen?' 
* No one could steal it,' he replied, 'the dog would not let him.' 
'But if anyone killed your dog?' His answer was significant. 
He clutched his axe, and made a motion as though he would 
cut down the man who did so. 

" And this was no idle threat. In 1849, a Bintenne Veddah 
deliberately knocked a man's brains out for having, as he 
believed, killed two of his dogs by magic^ He never attempted 
to deny what he had done. ' It is true,' he said at the coroner's 
inquest, ' I killed him, and I did so because he had killed, by 
witchcraft, the two dogs I had reared and hunted for my support-.'" 

The following is a list of the names of dogs and bitches 
obtained from the Henebedda Veddas : 

Dogs. Kapura, Kadiya {kadi, black ant), Muranduwa (ob- 
stinate), Hudena (white), Pandina (spotty), Dimbula, Boriya, 
Taniya, Tambula, Senba, Katakaluwa (black mouth), Bahira, 
Pulana, Kambiliya, Komiya (a Sinhalese corruption of " come 
here," the name of a dog belonging to the Korale of Nilgala). 

Bitches. Pandi (spotty), Katakalu (black mouth), Handani 
(white), Dassi (clever), Dimbile, Makedi (like iron), Bosari, Hudu 
Valli, Mukulu. 

The following list represents the usual property of an elderly 
Vedda, that is, of one of the influential men of the group, and 
actually records the property of Poromala (Walaha) the " senior" 
of the Henebedda Veddas ; one axe, bow and arrows, three pots, 
a deerskin, a " flint and steel " and supply of tinder, a gourd for 
carrying water, a betel pouch containing betel cutters and some 
form of vessel or small box, perhaps of metal (e.g. an old brass 
covered cartridge case), for holding lime. Most Veddas also 
possess a certain amount of cloth besides that actually in use on 
their person, and Handuna was no exception to this rule. 

Kaira of Henebedda had only two pots, but otherwise the 
list of his property is identical with that already given. Handuna 

^ "The murdered man was not a Veddah, but a low-country vagrant; several of 
whom have of late years, taken up their abode near the Bintenne Veddahs, to their 
great annoyance." 

'■^ Bailey, op. at., pp. 286 — 287. 


of Sitala Wanniya had three dogs, an axe, bow and arrow, one 
pot, betel bag, betel cutters, " flint and steel " and gourd for 
carrying tinder. 

It seemed that adult sons inherited most of their fathers' 
personal property, but certainly the sons-in-law had the right to 
receive something. We have no doubt that what actually 
occurs, or until recently occurred, is that the adult children and 
the sons-in-law talked over and decided who should have each 
article of property, the whole being fairly shared ; or if the sons- 
in-law were well provided with goods the whole of the dead 
man's property might go to his sons ; thus Poromala (Walaha) 
told us that when his father died, leaving an axe, a bow and 
arrows, a deerskin, " flint and steel " and a betel bag with 
accessories, he took the axe and bow and arrows, leaving the 
other articles to his brother Handuna. Poromala added that as 
elder brother the division of the property was his affair. When 
Poromala dies his property will be divided among his children, 
and it appeared that his eldest child, his daughter Tuti and her 
husband, would take the leading part in the distribution of his 
personal property. Handuna of Sitala Wanniya says that his 
property will be divided as follows ; he has three dogs, each of 
his two sons and his baena will take one of these ; his axe and 
bow and arrows will be divided between his sons ; his son-in-law 
will take his strike-a-light and his wife his betel bag and its 
appurtenances and probably his pots. Handuna added that his 
landed property would naturally go to his sons, but pointed out 
that his baena had a right to demand any personal property he 
cared to have, though no baena would behave unfairly or badly 
to his father-in-law's sons. 

At Godatalawa, where Handuna the "senior" of the group 
had no adult sons, it was said that his dog, axe and bow and 
arrows would be divided between his sons-in-law ; his betel bag 
and his deerskin would go to his son, a boy of eight or ten, who 
would also take his rice mortar and divide his father's pots with 
his baena. From these examples, it will be clear that a man's 
personal property is fairly equally divided between his children, 
the daughters' shares being often nominally given to their 


In concluding these remarks on property we may refer to 
the list given by Rutimeyer {Globus 1903) of Vedda objects of 
personal property in the Basle Museum, these are : 

(i) Bow and ordinary arrows with iron heads of different 

(ii) Elephant arrows (i.e. ceremonial arrows or aude). 
(iii) Simple sharpened wood arrows, 
(iv) Boy's bow with wooden arrows, being an exact 

facsimile of the iron tipped arrows, 
(v) Axes, 
(vi) Digging sticks, 
(vii) Drill for producing fire, 
(viii) Apron made of the bast of Antiaris toxicaria {riti 

(ix) Tortoise shell from the Danigala used as a dish, 
(x) Disc of wax from wild bees (trading asset), 
(xi) Ball of bast cord for bow strings, 
(xii) Fire lighting appliances with hollowed areca nut for 

keeping tinder, 
(xiii) Earthenware pot hanging in a bast net. 
(xiv) Pouch made of squirrel skin, 
(xv) Kilt made of leaves. 

To this Rutimeyer would add a riti bark bag, the message 
stick referred to in the anonymous report of 1820, printed by 
Le Mesurier^ and clay figures and marbles mentioned by 
Stevens, in order to have "a rather complete inventory of all 
utensils of the ' Nature Veddas.' " This list, however, omits 
dried deer skins and the skin and wooden honey-collecting 
utensils described in Chapter XI. Further, no mention is made 
of beads, which are certainly much appreciated by even the 
wilder Veddas (cf Chapter Xl). 

^ "The Veddas of Ceylon," by C. J. R. Le Mesurier, Journal Roy. As. Soc, 
Ceylon Branch, Vol. IX, i886. The statement referred to will be found on p. 347 
and runs as follows: — "They are totally unacquainted with letters, but the different 
tribes hold a rude correspondence with each other with small pieces of wood cut into 
different shapes. Fugitives used to be furnished with passports of this kind, when 
they removed from one tribe to another, and the treatment they received depended 
on the recommendation which the talisman conveyed." 


With regard to the existence of message sticks mentioned in 
the last paragraph, very careful inquiries were made of Veddas, 
Sinhalese peasants and Sinhalese headmen, including Mr Bibile, 
Ratemahatmaya. There seemed no doubt that among the 
peasant Sinhalese messages were traditionally transmitted by 
the conveyance of certain objects. We are unable to say 
whether this system was ever well developed and applied to 
many of the emergencies of life, but it seemed to be the general 
impression among our informants that the practice was formerly 
more common than at present. We were able, however, to hear 
of two messages habitually sent in this way among the more 
backward jungle Sinhalese at the present day. The first of 
these was the transmission of a piece of creeper with one, two 
or three knots tied in it. This was sent wrapped in a fragment 
of cloth and was a call to the recipient to come to the sender, 
the urgency of the latter's need being indicated by the number 
of knots. We consider the use of this message object thoroughly 
established as a Sinhalese custom, it was in use in the neighbour- 
hood of Bibile until recently and is still used in remoter jungle 

A lock of hair usually cut from the head of the dead man 
and twisted round a small stick and wrapped in a leaf or 
fragment of cloth was sent as a sign that a death had occurred. 
Our impression is that at the present day this is essentially a 
Sinhalese custom, for the Vedda Arachi of Potuliyadde told us 
that among the jungle Sinhalese when a man died away from 
his home, his people might be informed of his death in this way. 
We could not hear of this custom among the least sophisticated 
of the Veddas we met, though it was said to exist at Henebedda, 
where however, if it really occurred, it may have been due to 
Sinhalese influence. With regard to its existence among the 
Veddas apart from Sinhalese influence, it seemed to us that the 
importance of a lock of hair as evidence of land transfer (de- 
scribed on p. 114) renders it unlikely that hair would be sent 
as evidence of death. The care that the Vedda Arachi of 
Potuliyadde took when bringing me his " seisin " to photograph, 
of which a lock of hair was an important part, was very noticeable^ 

^ On the other hand the custom may have been derived from the Vedda practice, 





















Turning now to the message sticks, certain conventional 
signs scratched on leaves or flat slips of wood were at times sent 
by Sinhalese chiefs to the Veddas as an intimation that they 
required them to bring venison and honey. These signs always 
took one form^ representing a carrying stick {pingo), to each end 
of which a circular object representing a pot of honey was 
attached. By the side of the pot of honey there were generally 
drawn two short vertical lines, immediately beneath which were 
a number of rather longer horizontal lines. Each pair of hori- 
zontal lines represented a joint of venison and the vertical lines 
immediately above them the cord by which they would be 
suspended from the pingo. As far as we could determine no 
other form of written message ever passed between the Sinhalese 
and Veddas, but there is no doubt that although the Sitala 
Wanniya Veddas knew nothing of such messages the Danigala 
Veddas recognised their meaning and acted on them. Mr Bibile 
told us that on one occasion when he had sent this message 
scratched on an ola leaf to the headman of the Danigala Veddas 
he had received the honey and venison he had asked for in 
about a week. We were told that on receiving this message a 
Vedda might say 

Dik, dik, eii'uwdj kac kutta 
Wata kuru ewicwaj paeni miitta^ 
Kota kota ewuiua; mac kuttaP: 

Long long (ones I) have sent ; cut pingos 
Round (ones I) have sent ; honey pots 
Short short (ones I) have sent ; cut meat. 

and represent this modified to suit the convenience of the peasant Sinhalese who, 
as aheady mentioned, have much Vedda blood in them. 

^ Mutla may be a verb, tnuttiya is a pot. 

2 Kiitta appears to le derived from v. kotanawa, to chop or cut ; compare 
colloquial bunna, "I have drunk," from v. honawa and other instances. We are 
indebted to Mr Parker for these notes as well as for the transliteration and translation 
of the message. 



When a man or woman dies from sickness the body is left 
in the cave or rock-shelter in which death took place. The 
body is not washed, dressed or ornamented in any way but is 
generally allowed to lie in the natural supine position and is 
covered with leaves and branches. 

This was formerly the universal custom and still persists 
among the less sophisticated Veddas, who sometimes in addition 
place a large stone upon the chest of the dead man. This old 
custom, for which no reason could be given, is still observed at 
Sitala Wanniya where the body is still covered with branches 
and left where death has occurred. As soon as these matters 
are attended to, and it seem.ed that they are carried through as 
quickly as possible after death, the small community leaves the 
cave or place in which the death has occurred and avoids it for a 
long time. It was sometimes stated that its members would 
never return, but we know of at least two cases in which sons 
returned to the cave in which their fathers died after many years, 
and we have no doubt that this statement means no more than 
that no one approached the cave for a long time. It was always 
difficult to obtain even a crude estimate of the lapse of time 
between events, but there was some reason to believe that in one 
of the two instances the shelter in which death occurred was 
untenanted for about twelve years. In any event it is certain 
that Veddas did return to caves in which a death had occurred, 
and that if any bones were left, no difficulty was made about 
picking these up and casting them into the jungle^ 

1 This accords with the experience of the Drs Sarasin who say: — "We never 
found the least difficulty when collecting skeletons of Veddas. They [the Veddas] 


It should be mentioned that no fire was lit near the corpse or 
water left by it when the living deserted the cave. Among the 
majority, including^the^wcr wildest groups of Veddas, there is no 
avoidance of any of the property of the dead man, aud_ the 
contents of his betel bag would be eaten directly after his death, 
but among the members of another group -of'Veddas (Hene- 
bedda), who must be regarded as pure-blooded although their 
system of magic shows Sinhalese influence, the betel bag, unless 
it were a very good one, would be left with the corpse, and in 
any case its contents would not be eaten, but left near the dead 
man. The areca nut cutter and lime box, which during life were 
always carried hrthe bag, would not be left^ with the corpse, but 
before they were used by the living, measures were taken of 
which the avowed design was to render these objects harmless. 
Thus the old headman of the Henebedda Veddas exposed his 
father's lime box and areca cutters under a bush for a period 
which was certainly longer than ten but probably less than 
thirty days. It was necessary to do this, since if these objects 
had been used immediately, the individuals using them would 
probably have contracted the same illness as that from which 
the dead man suffered, and on further questioning the old man 
explained that the yaka producing the illness from which his 
father had died would for some time, and in some way which 
he could not define, remain connected with the chewing apparatus 
which the dead man had used constantly during his last 

At Bandaraduwa we were able to ascertain what was done 
after the death of a man named Tuta which had occurred in a 
neighbouring settlement two days before our arrival. The grave 
was dug by two of the man's brothers who carried the body to 
it ; nothing was buried in the grave, not even the dead man's 

were always ready to show us the place in which... they had buried. When we 
proceeded to dig up the skeleton they for the most part looked on with interest and 
without showing the least sign of e.xcitement, and when it was necessary to pick all 
the small hand and feet bones out of the sandy soil they were perfectly ready to assist. 
We were always told willingly who was buried in a particular spot. The place of 
burial was always shown us by the relatives of the deceased... thus in Mudugala near 
Omuni a father showed us the grave of his daughter and in the Nilgala district a son 
led us to the grave of his father." Op. cit. p. 494. 


betel pouch, although he had lain with it supporting his head 
during his last illness which was by no means short, but on the 
contrary it was kept in the house and its contents were 
immediately used. No water was left on the grave nor was a 
fire lit, nor could we discover that the two men who carried the 
body to the grave washed or in any way purified themselves. 

Among the village Veddas of Omuni who have much 
Sinhalese blood, though culturally they appear to owe more to 
the Tamils of the east coast than to the Sinhalese, it was stated 
that the betel pouch and its contents would be buried beneath 
the head of the dead man and a coconut shell of water placed 
by his side. These people, who settled some seventy years ago, 
as Tennant records^ knew only of leaving the body in the cave 
as a custom practised long ago by their ancestors, and there is 
no doubt that the adults of the present generation have seen 
nothing except burial in graves probably conducted in much the 
same manner as that practised by the surrounding Sinhalese. 

The Omuni Veddas mentioned two interesting points with 
regard to burial. It should not take place in the immediate 
neighbourhood of any of their scanty and primitive chena 
cultivations, and the grave should be at least as far from the 
village as it was possible to hear a " Hoo" cry. 

An even more advanced stage of care for the dead has been 
described by the Sarasins in the case of a " Culture Vedda " 
whose grave they opened. Unfortunately it is not said in what 
part of the country this grave was situated, though from the 
description given it is clear that the burial was recent. " A small 
structure {genist) was built over one such grave upon which a 
coconut leaf was laid, and at each corner of the erection was tied 
the inflorescence of a coconut palm. At the head of the grave 
lay three open coconuts and a small heap of wood, at the foot 
an opened and an untouched coconut. Three cacti were planted 
on the grave, one at the head, one in the middle and one at the 
foot. The grave was three or four feet deep.... The body 
which was that of a woman was wrapped in much cloth and had 
on it a necklace of glass beads...." 

The authorities quoted further note that bows, arrows, axes, 

^ Ceylon, London 1859, '^^ii- Hi PP- 446 and 447. 


betel bags and strike-a-lights may all be buried in the graves of 
male "Culture Veddas," and in one such grave they even found 

When an attempt is made to discover the nature of the 
noxious influence felt in the place of death, the usual answer 
given is to the effect that " if we stayed where the death had 
occurred we should be pelted with stones." Further questions 
made it clear that in many instances there was no definite idea 
that some part of the dead man was the active agent in the 
stone-throwing; on the other hand some Veddas, and these 
as far as we could judge some of the least contaminated, 
definitely believed that it was the spirit ox yaka of the dead man 
who would cause stones to rain on anybody staying near the 
corpse. And in this instance it was admittedly fear of the spirit 
of the dead individual that caused them to hurry from the site 
of death. Stone-t hrowing j sjthe usual method^^y which the 
yaku show their displeasure, using yoEii in the broadest sense, 
and b>nio~Tneans limiting this term to the spirits of the recent 
dead. It was clear that during certain disturbances described 
as " stone-throwing " no actual rocks or stones were moved or 
fell, and this was recognised by the Veddas who, however, 
continued to speak of the upheaval as " stone-throwing," which 
they ascribed to annoyance felt by the j«/^//. In one instance it 
was possible to say that the aggrieved yakii were not those of 
the recent dead. While camping within a couple of hundred 
yards of the Bendiyagalge caves in that part of the Uva jungle 
known as Henebedda we were startled between eleven and 
twelve one night by a deep groaning sound of considerable 
volume which was immediately followed by an outcry from the 
caves. Men shouted, women and children cried out, and every 
dog in the settlement howled its loudest. The noise which 
alarmed the cave occurred only once, and can hardly have 
lasted for more than ten seconds, but the chatter of people and 
the howling of dogs must have continued for about a quarter of 
an hour. We are entirely unable to state the cause of the noise, 
but suppose that it was due to one rock slipping upon another, 
or to the splitting of a mass of rock below the surface of the 

^ Op. cit. p. 494. 


ground, but no freshly exposed rock surfaces or any displace- 
ment of the soil was to be seen next morning in the neighbour- 
hood of the caves or the country immediately round them. The 
Veddas, however, had no doubt as to the cause of the noise and 
described it as "stone-throwing," stating that a number o^ yakii 
must have been annoyed with their proceedings on the previous 
day, when, after going through the kirikoraha ceremony over a 
fine buck which one of them had shot the night before, they 
were tempted to show us some part of the kolamadtrcva ceremony 
without providing the proper gifts for the yaku invoked on that 
occasion. They pointed out that it was the yaku of long dead 
Veddas who had manifested their displeasure by stone-throwing, 
though they all admitted that no one had seen the stones thrown 
or could show the stones with which the alleged bombardment 
had been effected. This, combined with the fact that a minority 
of Veddas frankly admit that the cause of leaving the site where 
death has occurred is fear of the yaka, seems to point to the 
whole process of desertion being due to fear of the spirit of the 
deceased, which for a short but indefinite time seems to be 
thought of as existing near the body it has left, though it was 
never possible to discover that this was a clearly formulated 

The matter may indeed be said to have been put beyond 
doubt by a discovery made by Mr Parker. The words mat 
paennae wanna occur in a number of invocations to the Nae 
Yaku. We could obtain no translation for these words in the 
field, though it was said that they alluded to the dead man, but 
by comparing a number of invocations to the Nae Yaku 
Mr Parker ascertained that 7nal is used as the equivalent of both 
" flowers " and " Veddas," so that this expression, which is un- 
doubtedly a term of address to the dead man's spirit, is to be 
translated " driver away of Veddas." 

Although the fear of the dead (as expressed by leaving the 
site of death) occurs among all the wilder Veddas, we met with 
a few old men, notably Poromala (Walaha) of Henebedda, and 
Handuna of Godatalawa, who were by no means confident that 
all men on their death became yaku. Although they were sure 
that all important and influential men, as well as those who 


during life had the power of calling and becoming possessed by 
the yaku, became yaku after death, they considered that it was 
by no means certain that any part of quite ordinary individuals 
survived death. At Godatalawa such doubts in the case of 
particular dead individuals might be settled by calling upon the 
deceased at a Nae Yaku ceremony when the following invocation 
was used : 

Lord ! New Driver away of Vaeddas, if it is true that there 
are miracles, killing one wild monitor lizard in the jungle while 
coming I must meet with a sambar deer. (Be pleased) to drink, 
Driver away of Vaeddas, this young coconuts 

If much game was killed after this ceremony the deceased 
was considered to have become a yaka ready and willing to 
help his friends and relatives. 

To ascertain the actual condition of the spirits of the departed 
for the first few days after death is a matter of some difficulty, 
for although certain communities have perfectly definite views 
on this point, others have not ; hence it will be convenient to 
leave this matter for the present and to return to it when the 
attitude of the Veddas towards their dead has been further 

As each Vedda community consists of a small number of 
families who, since cousin marriage prevails, are usually related 
both by blood and marriage, the yaku of the recent dead, called 
collectively Nae Yaku, are supposed to stand towards the 
surviving members of the group in the light of friends and 
relatives, who if well treated will continue to show lovingkindness 
to their survivors, and only if neglected will show disgust and 
anger by withdrawing their assistance, or becoming even actively 
hostile. Hence it is generally considered necessary to present 
an offering to the newly dead within a week or two of their 
decease ; but this is not invariably the case, for a few Veddas 
said that they would not hold a Nae Yaku ceremony until they 
specially required the help of the yaku or until misfortune 
threatened or had overtaken them. 

Among most Veddas the offering must consist of cooked rice 
d coconut milk, the food that every Vedda esteems above all 

—'—The transliteration of this invocation vnW be found in Chapter X, p. 277. 


Other, but betel leaves and areca nut are often added an d the , 
oldest survivor oTa small group of comparatively unsophisticated 
Veddas seen at Godatalawa stated thatT^n the old days this 
offering would have consisted of yams and water, if, as vvas^often 
the case, coconuts and rice — which were only to be secured with 
difficulty and by barter — could not be obtained. In each 
community there is one man called kapurale or dugganawa, who 
has the power and knowledge^equisite to call \h€ yaku, and in 
the ceremony of presenting the offering called Nae Yaku Na- 
tanawa (literally the dancing of the Nae Yakii), this man calls 
upon the yaka of the recently dead man to come and take the 
offering. It was stated that dugganawa was an older word than 
kapurale and was in fact a Vedda word, though it was soon 
obvious that only a minority of Veddas knew it. The dugganawa ', 
who throughout this book will be spoken of as the shaman, 
becomes possessed by the yaka of the dead man^ who speaks 
through the mouth of the shaman in hoarse guttural accents, 
declaring that he approves the offering, that he will assist his 
kinsfolk in hunting, and often stating the direction in which the 
next hunting party should go. 

Each shaman trains his successor, usually taking as his 
pupil his own son or his sister's son (i.e. his actual or potential 
son-in-law). Handuna of Sitala Wanniya learnt from his father. 
At Henebedda we were told that a special hut was built in 
which the shaman and his pupil slept, and from which women 
were excluded. It seems probable that this is only done among 
Veddas who have come under Sinhalese influence, as among 
them, but not among the wilder Veddas, women are considered 
unclean, and there was no isolation of the shaman and his pupil 
at Sitala Wanniya. 

Sella Wanniya of Unuwatura Bubula was instructed by his 
father, and during his apprenticeship he resided with him in a 
hut into which his mother was not allowed to come. 

The pupil learns to repeat the invocations used at the various 
ceremonies, but no food is offered to the yaku. At Sitala 
Wanniya we were told that the shaman recited the following 
formula, explaining to the. yaku that he is teaching his pupil: 

■* See footnote, p. i6. 


Ayu bowa. Matna ada sita 7nan golayek /ladanmva 

Eyin kisi waradak gatida epd. 

Mage golayaia man kiya deJtaivCi me piida topaia denda. 

"May (your) life be long! From to-day I am rearing a scholar of the 
mind. Do not take any offence at it. I am explaining to my pupil how to 
give this offering to you." 

The yaku understand that although the formulae invoking 
them are recited they are not really being called, and so the 
pupil does not become possessed while learning, nor do Xh^ yaku 
hurt him. The jupiL aygids eating or touching pig or eating 
fowl in the same way as the shaman, and Sella of Unuwatura 
Bubula stated that while learning he avoided rice, coconuts and 
kurakan, eating especially the flesh of the sambar and monitor 

^The shaman exercises complete control over his pupil and, 
we believe, does not usually train more than one disciple. We 
heard of one instance in which a shaman, considering his pupil 
unfit, advised him to give up all idea of becoming a shaman. 
This happened among the Mudigala Veddas, apparently between 
20 or 30 years ago. No man, however highly trained, is accounted 
the official .shaman of a community during his teacher's life, 
although with his teacher's permission he will, when he is pro- 
ficient, perform ceremonies and become possessed by the yaku. 

At Sitala Wanniya we discovered that a shaman must not 
cut his hair unless he takes special precautions. One of us was 
collecting specimens of hair, and on asking Handuna for a lock, 
was answered affirmatively but told that as he (Handuna) was 
a shaman a cloth must be held over his head " because of the 
yaku!' As we had used a great deal of cloth, we asked if a 
piece of newspaper would do ; Handuna replied that it would 
be as good, but he must keep it always to cover his head 
when he danced. We explained that the paper would probably 
rot ; then said he, " I shall die." He said he did not know why, 
but he believed this, as his father had told him that even should 
his son want a lock of his hair (hair is given as " seisin ") he must 
cover his head with a cloth when it was cut, and ever afterwards 
must cover it when dancing, or else the yaku would kill him. 
Yet such was his politeness that rather than refuse our request 
s. V. 9 


he was ready to suffer this inconvenience. Of course under 
these conditions we did not take a lock of his hair. 

His son-in-law Kaira, although he assisted Handuna in 
dancing, offered no objection to our collecting a sample of his 
hair, nor did any of the other members of the community. 

Besides the shaman one or more of the near relatives of the 
dead man may become possessed, but this though common is 
not invariable. The yaka leaves the shaman soon after he has 
promised his favour and success^ m^iuntthg, the sharnan^ often 
collapsing as the spirit departs and in any case appearing in an 
exceedingly exhausted state for a few minutes. However, he 
soon comes round when he and all present, constituting the men, 
women and children of the group, eat the offering, usually 
on the spot on which the invocation took place, though this is 
not absolutely necessary, for on one occasion at Sitala Wanniya 
when a rain squall threatened, the food was quickly carried to 
the cave a few hundred yards distant from the dancing ground. 

It was clear that this eating of the food which had been 

offered to the yakii was an act of communion, and an essential 

part of the ceremony which was thought to bring health and 

good fortune, for some communities even anointed the heads of 

their dogs with the milk of the offering, explaining that this was 

done because of their value. This was the case at Henebedda, 

while the patriarch of the Godatalawa Veddas explained that 

some of the offering was always given to their dogs to eat, for 

the reason that they depended upon them in hunting. In one 

Nae Yaku ceremony (Bandaraduwa) the shaman fed the nearest 

relatives of the dead man immediately after the yaku left him, 

holding the bowl containing the offering to their mouths, while 

among the Sitala Wanniya Veddas, not only did the shaman, 

while still possessed, feed the children of the group from the 

bowl and smear its contents over their faces, but a number of 

members of the group, including the grandchildren of the dead 

man whose yaka possessed the shaman at the time, placed a 

small portion of the offering in the shaman's mouth. The 

strength of the desire for the companionship and comm.'' ''*^^^ 

with the spirits of the kindly dead was very strong, a ^ ^^'^^ 

.^ jr>' jsessed h r 

generally felt that shamans, and those frequently pc y 


the yaku, might expect to have especially good luck on account 
of their close association with the spirits. Many instances 
occurred which showed how strong was the feeling of good 
fellowship which the living had for the spirits of their dead. 
Thus at Sitala Wanniya, on the occasion of the performance 
of a Nae Yakit ceremony got up at our request, Handuna, the 
shaman and leading man in the small community, volunteered 
the statement that he and his people were delighted to hold 
the ceremony, since it was seldom that they were able to offer 
their yakiL such food as that provided by us. After his own 
father had been invoked and had expressed his unqualified 
pleasure at the good things provided for him, there was some 
discussion as to further dancing, because the dancer really felt 
exhausted, but all urged the continuation of the ceremony, since 
there were o\\\&c yakii who might well be invoked on an occasion 
when an unusually plenteous supply of food was provided for 
them. Again, in the ceremony which insured the safe taking of 
f^ock^ honey, it was explained that every male member of the 
little community must perform the dance, since only thus could 
they certainly expect to share in the benefits to be reaped from 
the goodwill of the yaku. But perhaps the best example of the 
feeling of affectionate regard and of kindly good-fellowship 
existing between the living and the dead is afforded by the end 
of the invocation on the occasion of the Nae Yaku ceremony at 
Sitala Wanniya, for surely there could be no closer communion 
between the quick and the dead than that implied in the invo- 
cation, which is fully carried into effect by every member of the 
community sharing in the food that has been offered to the yaku. 

" Salutation ! Salutation ! Part [of our] relatives having called [you] in 
time (i.e. at the right time) [we] give you white rice. [You] eat [and] drink. 
Do not think any wrong (i.e. do not form an unfavourable opinion of us). 
We also eat and drink [the same food]." 

The above account is an outline of the simplest form of 
death ceremony such as was described to us at Godatalawa, but 
usually the matter is complicated by the invocation of certain 
yaku other than the A-ae Yaku. Many generations ago there 
lived a Vedda called Kande Wanniya, a mighty hunter, who at 
his death became Kande Yaka, and under this name is constantly 


invoked to give success in hunting. With Kande Yaka is also 
associated the yaka of his younger brother Bilindi, who is 
commonly believed to have been killed by Kande Wanniya in 
a fit of temper and who according to another version is not the 
brother but the brother-in-law of Kande Yaka. It is usual to 
invoke Kande Yaka and also Bilindi Yaka at the beginning of 
a Nae Yaku ceremony, and it was pointed out at different times 
by a number of our informants that the Nae Yakii could not 
come to the offerings unless accompanied by Kande Yaka, who 
was even spoken of as bringing the Nae Yaku with him. In 
fact, many Veddas stated that the Nae Yaku go to Kande Yaka 
and become his attendants ; this point of view was illustrated 
by the fact that in two death dances seen (one held for a man 
who had died seven days previously, the other a rehearsal 
performed for our benefit), Kande Yaka and Bilindi Yaka were 
invoked, and possessed the shaman and gave signs of their 
favour to the group of Veddas present, before the shaman 
became possessed by the Nae Yaku. Further, many of our 
informants, especially the less sophisticated, pointed out that 
soon after death the spirit of the deceased resorted to Kande 
Yaka in order to obtain his permission to accept offerings from 
their living relatives, and to obtain power from him to assist 
them in return for their offerings, or to injure them in the event 
of their bad behaviour. Thus Kande Yaka, who is of especial 
assistance in hunting, becomes Lord of the Dead. We have, 
however, little doubt that to the majority of Veddas Kande 
Yaka is especially the yaka who gives success in hunting, and 
that his relation to the dead does not leap to their minds on the 
mention of his name as does the idea of his helpfulness in 
hunting, for Kande Yaka was essentially a friendly and helpful 
yaka, who, unlike many other yaku usually beneficent, never sent 
sickness; in fact, Kande Yaka the spirit scarcely differs as 
patron of hunters from Kande Wanniya the mighty hunter, 
still living and showing kindness and helpfulness towards the 
people among whom he dwelt. 

It is now possible to consider the condition of the spirit of 
the deceased for a few days after death, according to those 
Veddas who state that a definite period elapses before the spirit 


becomes a yaka, for it appears that properly speaking the word 
yaka should not be applied to the spirit of the dead for the 
first few days after it has left the body. During this short period 
the word prana karaya (living one) should be used for the spirit 
of the deceased, for it has not yet attained the condition implied 
by the term yaka. Among the Henebedda Veddas it was thought 
that the prana karaya resorted to Kande Yaka a i^^^^ days, 
perhaps three or five, after death, and then obtained permission 
from him to accept offerings from the living, and thus become 
numbered among his attendants, the Nae Yaku ; but beyond a 
vague idea that the spirit might perhaps exist for a short time 
at the site where death had occurred, these folk had no know- 
ledge of its state before it reached Kande Yaka. The Bandara- 
duwa Veddas, who had come more under Sinhalese and Tamil 
influence, asserted that the spirit of the deceased spent some 
days in the neighbourhood of the death scene, which it only left 
to seek the Kataragam God and obtain his permission to become 
a yaka and pass into the train of attendants on Kande Yaka, 
and so become a Nae Yakii capable of accepting offerings from 
the living and in return helping or injuring them. 

The method of invocation oi Xho. yaku is essentiall}/ the same 
in all Vedda ceremonies ; an invocation is sung-by the shaman 
and often by the onlookers, while the shaman slowly dances, 
usually round the offering that has been prepared for the yaku. 
Sometimes the invocations are quite appropriate and either 
consist of straightforward appeals to the yaka invoked for help, 
or recite the deeds and prowess of the yaka when he too was a 
man, as when Kande Yaka is addressed as " continuing to go from 
hill to hill [who] follows up the traces from footprint to footprint 
of excellent sambar deer." But at other times the charms seem 
singularly inappropriate ; probably in many of these instances 
they are the remains of old Sinhalese charms that have not only 
been displaced from their proper position and function, but have 
been mangled in the process, and have in the course of time 
become incomprehensible. As the charm is recited over and 
over again the shaman dances more and more quickly, his voice 
becomes hoarse and he soon becomes possessed by the yaka, 
and, although he does not lose consciousness and can coordinate 


his movements, he nevertheless does not retain any clear recol- 
lection of what he says, and only a general idea of the movements 
he has performed. Although there is doubtless a certain element 
of humbug about some of the performances, we believe that this 
is only intentional among the tamer Veddas accustomed to show 
off before visitors, and that among the less sophisticated Veddas 
the singing and movements of the dance soon produce a more 
or less automatic condition, in which the mind of the shaman, 
being dominated by his belief in the reality of the yaku, and of 
his coming possession, really acts without being in a condition 
of complete volitional consciousness. Most sincere practitioners 
whom we interrogated in different localities agreed that although 
they never entirely lost consciousness, they nearly did so at times, 
and that they never fully appreciated what they said when 
possessed, while at both the beginning and end of possession 
they experienced a sensation of nausea and vertigo and the 
ground seemed to rock and sway beneath their feet. 

Some men, including Handuna of Sitala Wanniya, whom 
we consider one of the most trustworthy of our informants, said 
that they were aware that they shivered and trembled when they 
became possessed, and Handuna heard booming noises in his 
ears as the spirit left him and full consciousness returned. He 
said this usually happened after he had ceased to dance. We 
could not hear of any shaman who saw visions while possessed 
or experienced any olfactory or visual hallucinations before, 
during, or after possession. The Veddas recognise that women 
may become possessed, but we only saw one instance of 
(alleged) possession in a woman, which occurred at a rehearsal 
of a dance got up for our benefit on our first visit to Bendiyagalge, 
during which we are confident that none of the dancers were 
really possessed. Although we did not see the beginning of 
this woman's seizure we have little doubt that there was a large 
element of conscious deception in her actions, for when we 
became aware of her she was sitting bolt upright with her eyes 
shut and the lids quivering, apparently from the muscular effort 
of keeping them tightly closed, while opposite her was Tissahami 
the Vedda Arachi muttering spells over a coconut shell half full 
of water with which he dabbed her eyes and face. 


It is not suggested that the conscious element is entirely 
absent from the Vedda possession jiances, it is impossible to 
believe that such a sudden collapse as that occurring in the 
Henebedda kirikoraJia ceremony (p. 222) (when Kande Yaka 
in the person of the shaman shoots the sambar deer), followed 
by an almost instantaneous recovery, is entirely non-volitional, 
and the same holds good for the pig-spearing in the Bambura 
Yaka ceremony (p. 243) at Sitala Wanniya. We believe that 
these facts can be fully accounted for by a partial abolition of 
the will, that is to say, by a dulling of volition far short of 
complete unconsciousness. The shaman in fact surrenders him- 
self to the dance in the fullest sense, and it is this, combined 
with a high degree of sub-conscious expectancy, which leads 
him to enact almost automatically and certainly without careful 
forethought the traditional parts of the dance in their conven- 
tionally correct order. Further, the assistant, who follows every 
movement of the dancer, prepared to catch him when he falls, 
may also greatly assist by conscious or unconscious suggestion 
in the correct performance of these complicated possession 
dances. Again, we do not think there can be any doubt as to 
the non-volitional nature of the possession, by the yaka, of the 
bystanders, near relatives of the dead man, which may take 
place during the Nae Yakii ceremony'. 

One remarkable fact may be chronicled here, viz. that we 
have never met a Vedda who had seen the spirit of a dead man, 
that is to say, no Vedda ever saw a ghost, at least in his waking 
hours. We have never been able to ol)tain any corroborative 
evidence for Bailey's assertion that " the spirits [of the dead] 
appear to them in dreams and tell them [the Veddas] where to 
hunt." Veddas certainly dream, but Handuna and his son-in- 
law Kaira, two most trustworthy informants, said that they did 

1 There was nothing about the general behaviour of any of the Veddas with whom 
we came in contact that suggested a specially neurotic or hysterical tendency. The 
graver stigmata of hysteria such as would warrant a diagnosis of functional disease 
were always absent and the Veddas, even when ill, were in no sense fuss makers 
or inclined to magnify their ailments in the way so many Melanesians do. We are 
indebted to Dr C. S. Myers for the suggestion that possession by the yaku can best 
be explained as an affection (dissociation) of altered personality. If this be so 
the condition is comparable to a number of well-known cases in the sphere of mental 


not ^oftenjiave dreams. Dreams are considered uncanny, and 
Handuna said that, although a shaman, he himself feared them. 
He told us that a man would usually remain quietly in the rock- 
shelter for a whole day after a dream, and would not leave it to 
get food, even if staying in the cave meant going hungry. 
Handuna once dreamt that he had shot a monkey and brought 
it back to the cave, so he did not go out hunting the next day 
but stayed in the cave. He said that he had never had dreams 
that were of themselves of a terrifying nature, such as being 
attacked by bears or falling over a precipice. He dreamt of his 
father a few days after his death, but seldom or never since then. 
In his dream his dead father invited him to come hunting with 
him, and together they went into the jungle and found some 
yams and cooked and ate them. Handuna said that he was 
not afraid " because he was my father ; what was there to be 
afraid of? Nevertheless I stayed in the cave, for I was sorry 
that day." Handuna told us that children — even small children 
that cannot talk — may wake up shrieking, but he has never 
heard of people talking in their sleep. 

With regard to the causation of dreams there was a real but 
ill-defined belief connecting the dream-forms of dead relatives 
with the spirits {^yaku) of the dead. Discussing this matter in 
connection with his dream of his dead father, Handuna said, 
" We think it is through love they come," but he showed that he 
realised that living people who were not near relatives might be 
seen in dreams, by volunteering the statement that at our 
departure he might dream of one of us (C. G. S.) to whom he 
was speaking. 

Although the dream-forms of dead persons were vaguely 
associated with ih^xx yaku, it was generally denied that the dead 
seen in dreams told the living where to hunt, and it must be 
remembered that the general opinion was that no living person 
had ever seen a yaka, and it was only when specially discussing 
dreams that it was said \h^.\. yaku were seen in dreams. Nor did 
the Nae Yakii regularly make their presence known in any other 
way than by possession, though some Veddas translated the 
minor noises of the jungle into signs of the presence of \^\q yakn. 
These facts also seem to militate against the idea that any 


considerable part of Vedda possession is a fraud, deliberately- 
conceived and perpetrated, for knowing, as many Veddas do, 
of the frequency with which the Sinhalese see "devils" and 
" spirits " of all sorts, nothing would appear easier, if fraud were 
intended, than for a shaman to assert that he could see the 
spirits which every Vedda believes are constantly around him. 

Arrows play a considerable part in the Vedda religion, two 
forms of arrow being used. The first is the ordinary arrow used 
for shooting game, the second a ceremonial arrow called aude 
with a blade 8 to 18 inches long, which is usually but not always 
hafted into a handle often considerably shorter than the blade\ 
Both forms of arrows are used in the possession dances described 
in Chapter IX, but in addition to this the shooting arrow is used 
as-g^rotection to infant?, being commonly thrust in the ground 
by^he side of a sleeping child when its mother is forced to leave 
it. We heard^ of this custom in several communities, and at 
Sitala Wanniya, where arrows were scarce, were shown a wooden 
bladed arrow which was said to be used in this way (figure 7 {a))\ 
aude might also be made of wood when an iron blade was not 
available, and figure 7 {b) shows a wooden mide made for us at 
Henebedda. These facts are important as showing that the 
power of the arrow lies in itself and not m its iron blade. 

The protective power of the arrow was noted by Nevill, who 
stated that the Nilgala V^eddas " regard the symbol of an arrow, 
placed by their babe, as efficient protection for it. They leave 
tiny babes upon the sand for hours together, with no other 
guard than an arrow stuck in the ground by their side. Their 
belief in the efficacy of this has received no shock. They never 
knew such a child to be attacked by wild beasts, pigs, leopards, 
jackals, etc. or harmed-." 

With regard to the long-bladed and short-handled cere- 
monial arrows, the handles of these are sometimes covered with 
incisions so roughly executed that they do not form a pattern 
and can hardly be decorative even in intention, so that probably 
they only serve the useful purpose of preventing the hand from 

' These ceremonial arrows are doubtless identical with the large blades described 
by various authors as formerly used in shooting elephants. 
2 Op. cit. Vol. I, p. 185. 



(«) (^) 

Fig- 7- 
Arrow with wooden blade and wooden atide. 

1=1? m 





Fig. 8. 



slipping. Such ceremonial arrows are generally heirlooms, not 
necessarily passing from father to son but rather being handed 
down in apostolic succession from shaman to shaman, and 
among the village Veddas of Bintenne I have handled one such 
blade with a history running back for five generations. 

Figure 8 shows two ceremonial arrows which we were able to 
collect. Besides these we saw similar andc at Omuni and were 
told at Sitala Wanniya that Handuna had formerly possessed 
one. Rutimeyer has figured one of these ceremonial arrows 
about 14 inches long, obtained from Kaira the "senior" of the 
Danigala Veddas. These arrows are carefully preserved by the 
shaman, and just as he himself observes certain dietetic rules, 
avoiding eating pig and fowl which are supposed to be particularly 
repulsive to the-f aku, so among those more sophisticated com- 
munities "whir^eireve in the periodical uncleanliness of women, 
special precautions are taken to avoid the possible contamination 
of the ande^. This is generally dene by keeping them in some com- 
paratively remote spot such as a cave or in the roof thatch. It is 
necessary that the shaman should hold one of these arrows uThts^ 
hand when invoking Kande Yaka ; he should also have one for 
Bilindi Yaka, though as^aTiiTatter of practice Kande Yaka and 
Bilindi Yaka were often invoked using the same audt\ another 
aiide being reserved for invoking the Nae Yaku. Both arrows 
were, however, commonly held in the hands during the whole of 
the Nae Yaku ceremony, but in spite of this no confusion seemed 
to arise nor had the onlookers the least difficulty in saying which 
aude belonged to Kande Yaka whenever they were asked. 

The offering of rice in the pot would be stirred with the aude, 
and betel leaves might be ceremonially transfixed with it. Among 
the Veddas of Unuwatura Bubula the testing of the quality of 
the food provided for the yaku was performed with the help of 
the aude, the shaman possessed by Kande Yaka using the aude 
to remove from the pot a few grains of rice which the yaka in 
the person of the shaman several times examined before ex- 
pressing his approval of the offering provided. 

1 The belief in the periodical uncleanliness of women has been borrowed from the 
Sinhalese. It did not exist in the "wildest" group we met with, on the other hand 
we found it among all the more sophisticated Veddas, attaining a maximum where these 
had come under foreign influence. 


Besides the important part in the Vedda cult of the dead 
played by the propitiation of the Nae Yakit, and of the yakii of 
certain other Veddas such as Kande Wanniya who as yakii have 
attained to special importance (approaching that of culture 
heroes in other forms of belief), there is a certain feeling of 
reverence for a host of Vi\\x\z.n\Q.A yakti. Little attention is paid 
to these but, since it is stated that they too were once men, the 
suggestion may be hazarded that they represent the yaku of 
the forgotten dead. These yaku, although all around in the 
jungle, are in some instances thought of as vaguely attached to 
special localities, especially to glades in the forest, unusually 
large trees, and above all large rocks and rocky hilltops. 
The yak^i of rocks and hilltops, indeed, tend to become 
named, taking the name of the hill they inhabit ; even among 
the less civilised Veddas they are sometimes identified with the 
yaku of Vedda headmen who have lived on or near the hills. 
On the other hand among the more sophisticated Veddas these 
yaku tend to become less and less the spirits of dead Veddas, 
and finally, under Tamil influence, are thought of as dangerous 
spirits, immigrants from beyond the Ocean, each of whom with a 
female of his own species haunts the hilltops and sends disease. 
Somewhat akin to these yaku in their less dangerous forms are 
the kiriajHPia (\itera.Uy milk mothers, i.e. grandmothers), the yaku 
of Vedda women, generally the wives of Vedda headmen or 
chiefs, many of whom are thought of as haunting the sides and 
tops of hills where there are rocks and springs. They are some- 
times jealous of people gathering honey — indeed there is a 
tendency to avoid rocky mountain tops on their account — but 
may be placated by a charm, though occasionally a little honey 
is left for them with a muttered kapau kirianwiala — Eat O 
Kiriamma. Although the}^ retain the fondness for children 
which they felt in their lifetime they not infrequently send 
sickness, at least among the more sophisticated Veddas. 

A few kiriamma have become rather important j(7>('/^, notably 
an old woman of the Unapane clan now known as Unapane 
Kiriamma, but such kiriamina do not appear to be especially 
associated with rocky or hilly sites. 

We are now in a position to discuss the possible evolution of 


such Specially important yahi as Kande Yaka and Bambura 
Yaka who may without exaggeration be said to have attained 
the position of heroes. It has been stated on p. 126 that 
according to certain Veddas not all the dead become j/«/&?/ but 
only the spirits of specially important men or those who during 
life have the power of summoning \)i\t yakic to them. Further, 
the general impression we gathered was that the stronger the 
personality of the dead man, the more powerful and important 
was his yaka, and it may well be that the yaka of a particularly 
strong or skilled individual may be remembered by name and 
continue to receive offerings, even after the death of those near 
relatives to whom the spirit is one of the most important of the 
Nae Yaku on account of the blood bond between them. This 
appears to have happened in the case of Panikkia Yaka invoked 
at the present day by the Henebedda Veddas, and we shall now 
attempt to trace the history of this spirit. 

It was stated in the first chapter that a number of the 
Veddas were politically organized in the i6th century and that 
one of the most important of their chiefs, described in a con- 
temporary manuscript as Panikki the Vedda, was appointed to 
the high office of Bandara Mudiyanse. Further, it is recorded 
that Panikki the Vedda caught elephants and took them to the 
king. Now at Henebedda at the present day Panikki Yaka is in- 
voked in the Kolomaduwa ceremony to avert sickness alike from 
man and cattle, and to confer prosperity on villages and cattle- 
folds. Those Veddas, a minority, who know anything of this 
yaka, state that he is the spirit of a long dead Vedda who was 
especially skilled in capturing buffalo, and who on account of 
his great knowledge of jungle craft is still able to confer safety 
and jungle favour on those invoking him. 

In Chapter I we have mentioned that the Vedda cult of the 
dead has infiltrated the beliefs of the Sinhalese, and we will now 
give some details of the Bandar cult to which we there alluded. 
Concerning this Mr Parker writes : " It is a common practice of 
the Kandian Sinhalese of that part of the country to make 
offerings to the spirits of the deceased chiefs and important 

" They are all classed as Yakas by the Sinhalese and are 


generally hurtful ; but some have certain protective functions, and 
protect cattle and coconut trees and crops. 

" The offerings are kept up everywhere in that part of the 
island to the present day at the Dewalas, and elsewhere. 
Luckily, it is a branch of their religion to which I devoted special 
attention... and although my lists are doubtless incomplete 1 have 
the names of considerably more than lOO of them. 

" Some were included in the lists as important ancestors ; 
others, the majorit}', because of their power, others because of 
their cruelty, or their sudden violent death. 

" Panikki Vaedda occurs among them, and there are a [e\v 
other names which may be those of Vaeddas, — such as Yapa, 
Hiti, Hapu etc.... 

" I have been informed that every one for whom a da/ui or 
funeral feast is not offered (at which the spirit is supposed to be 
present) remains in the form of a homeless spirit {pretd) ox yaka. 
These commonly disappear in time and are forgotten. Some of 
them remain about their old abodes, and uncanny noises heard 
during the night in the houses are caused by these ghosts, as in 

" The Sinhalese demonology is very intricate, and it is 
extremely difficult to understand. There are many classes of 
yakii ; but I believe that this Bandar worship is the only in- 
digenous portion of it. I have traced practically all the other 
demons to Southern India, although the kapurala claim that a 
few others, in addition to the Bandaras, are of local origin. 
They themselves admit that all the rest were imported from 

" The twelve Vaedi Yaku are, I believe, an entirely different 
set of evil spirits 

" The Vaeddas told me that they are extremely malignant. 
Besides these, they said that the whole forest is full of local 
nameless Yaku, who make strange noises in the night and 
frighten people in various ways. This also is a firmly 
rooted Sinhalese belief; their estimate of the number is two 

The resemblance between this Baiidara cult and the Vedda 
worship of the Nae Yaku is obvious and is still further shown by 


the canonization as a Bandar of one Godegedara, an influential 
Ratemahatmaya, first of Wellasse and then of Badulla who died 
in 1872 and whose spirit now prevents disease among cattle, 
increases their milk, protects man and animals from beasts of 
prey, helps hunters and prevents their meeting wild beasts 
suddenly in the jungle and in fact gives success in all things 1. 
About three months after his death certain unusual happenings 
suggested that one of the dead was trying to attract the attention 
of the living. An elephant appeared at Damenegama in Uva 
and in the neighbourhood, and although repeatedly shot at 
continued to come to the villages and tear the roofs off the 
houses, but did no other damage. This unusual behaviour led to 
the suspicion that one of the dead had sent the elephant, and 
accordingly the turning stone {paena balanawa)w&.=> consulted as 
to whether one of the old or recent dead was responsible. When 
it was ascertained that it was the latter, a ceremony kamba 
kanuwa natanaiva was undertaken to discover whose was the 
spirit. The kapurale became possessed, when the Spirit within 
him announced that he, Godegedara, had sent the elephant and 
that he desired to be honoured and inv/oked to help men. It 
was explained that the spirits of the dead always approach the 
living for the first time through animals, or signify their desire 
for offerings by making a man sick. The rank of the deceased 
is roughly estimated by the animal sent, in which, however, the 
spirit of the deceased is not immanent. The lion is said to be 
highest, then comes the elephant ; the leopard indicates the 
spirit of a rather less exalted person. 

It appears that the dead have no power to interfere in human 
affairs and take offerings until permission has been obtained 
from one or more high gods, of whom the chief is the Kataragam 
God. How the spirit obtains this permission was not clear, but 
the early signs of the power of the deceased were always in some 
way connected with the Kataragam God. Thus Godegedera 
caused the elephant of the Kataragam God to go mad at the 
perahera ceremony, and when Kosgama became a Bandar a 
leopard sent by him rode round the Kataragam temple on the 

1 A translation of the invocation used when calHng upon Godegedera is given 
in the addeiTdum to this chapter. 


back of one of the God's bulls, i.e., one of the tavalam bulls, 
bringing provisions and salt to the temple, 

Kosgama Bandar is associated with Kosgama, where he 
lived in the i8th century or earlier. He refused to pay tribute 
to the king and from his invocation given elsewhere^ it may be 
gathered that he rebelled and was betrayed by an adherent whom 
he trusted. He was captured, tied to a tree and shot to death 
with arrows. Kosgama Bandar was said to be especially help- 
ful in litigation and in recovering lost cattle, but in fact he is of 
assistance in all ways. 

We may now return to Panikki Yaka, who Mr Parker agrees 
with us may safely be identified as the spirit of the i6th century 
" Vedda " chief, Panikki the Vedda, In the same manner as this 
yaka has been remembered and has developed the characters of 
a Vedda hero, so we believe Kande Yaka and other hero Yaku 
of the wilder Veddas have arisen, for it is as a mighty Vedda of 
the old days that the Veddas rbvere Kande Yaka. 

We need only assume that such heroes were unusually 
successful hunters, stronger personalities than their neighbours, 
so that their names were held in honour among a people more 
numerous than their immediate family circle, to see clearly how 
after their death their names would be continued in memory and 
their spirits be invoked by those who had admired and feared 
them, and by their children and children's children. It is 
entirely in harmony with this view that Kande Yaka should 
have become the Lord of the Dead, to whom the lesser spirits 
resort to obtain permission to accept offerings and to aid their 
still living relatives and former companions. 

No reverence is paid to the heavenly bodies, and our old 
Kandyan informant knew nothing of any worship of the sun or 
moon. He nevertheless agreed that in his youth as at the 
present day the Veddas would call the moon Hande Deyo or 
Sande Deyo and the sun Ira Deyo respectively-. 

^ "Note on the Bandar Cult of the Kandyan Sinhalese," Man, 1909, p. 77. 

^ We found Deyo to be''commonly used for "god," the proper word for which is 
deviya, pi. dt'tdyo; but as explained to us by Mr Parker these words are often altered 
to deyiya and a'^jy/yc? and the Sinhalese "always say 'Kataragama Deyiya' or 'Deyiyo. ' 
The plural forms are used honorifically with a singular meaning." 

religion 145 


The following translation of the invocation of Godegedara 
Bandara has been prepared by Mr Parker from a manuscript 
given me in Ceylon by the Arachi of Potuliyadde. 

The Song of the God Godegedara. 

1. He is a god of a distant country in the Uva region, 
Having come to this side in the Wellassa region, 

Having raised my joined hands to my head I worship (him) that there 

may be good luck. 
He is coming, I shall say, the God of (this) region. 

2. Is not every one staying in (some) place ? 
Having died in its heart what pulse will ripen ? 
The God sleeps in the upper heavens. 

The God Godegedara is coming. 

3. For an endless time being on the watch we utter songs to the God. 
Should there be mistakes (in them) in the name of charity (or merit) 

pardon the mistakes. 
Endlessly songs are sung accompanied by beating of the five (kinds of) 

The God Godegedara is powerful (enough) even to give a tusk elephant. 

4. When it rises the dusk of the moon lights up the round universe 

and Dambadiva (India). 
The God Godegedara appears like an inextinguishable lamp (lit. a 

lamp with its fire enduring by (divine) orders for many years). 
The hair of his head sports in the midst of his back like the play of 

golden rays acting as his retinue. 
Should King Godegedara come to the seat I shall now receive the betel 

altar (i.e. the offering will be made, and the officiator will then get 

the betel which has been offered). 

" In the last line there is some doubt about the title of 
Godegedara ; either the expression dera{na) devi means king, 
that is literally ' god of the earth,' or dera has been written by 

s. V. 10 


RELIGION (Continued) 

We have now described the fundamental ideas of the Vedda 

cult of the dead, but superposed upon these there are two other 

strata of belief both of which have influenced the religion of 

certain groups of Veddas to a greater or less extent. Before 

discussing these we may briefly indicate the views of the more 

thorough of previous investigators. In this as in other matters 

Knox was better informed than many of his successors when 

he said of the Veddas, " The tmner do build Temples, the wild 

only bring their sacrifice under Trees, and while it is offering 

dance round it, both men and women ^" Tennant's account 

adds little to this ; Bailey's account, undoubtedly the most 

complete and trustworthy that has been given to date, is not 

quoted here because it will be found almost in full on pp. i6o 

and i6i where the religious beliefs of the Nilgala Veddas are 

discussed. Tennant writes, " They have no knowledge of a 

God, nor of a future state... in short, no instinct of worship, 

except ... when sick, they send for devil dancers to drive away 

the evil spirit, who is believed to inflict the disease. The dance 

is executed in front of an offering of something eatable, placed 

on a tripod of sticks, the dancer having his head and girdle 

decorated with green leaves. At first he shuffles with his feet 

to a plaintive air, and by degrees he works himself into a state 

of great excitement and action, accompanied by moans and 

screams, and during this paroxysm, he professes to be inspired 

with instruction for the cure of the patient I" 

1 op. cit. p. 63. 

^ Tennant, op. cit. pp. 441 and 442. 


Even Nevill missed the essentials of the Vedda cult of the 
dead, though he shows that he knew something of what actually 
occurred. " The Vaedda religion seems to have been such that 
the spirit alone was recognised as human, and the flesh, when 
the spirit has left it, receives neither veneration nor superstitious 
reverence. Where the life left the body, there the body was 

left Two or five days after the death, however, the relations 

were invited to the scene of funeral and a feast was held... to 
satisfy relations there had been no foul play 

" The Vaeddas of Bintenne, however, having assembled rela- 
tions and neighbours, procure rice, or other grain, and decorate 
the pot in which it is cooked with sprays of the liniya tree% a 
shrub with leaves like our hazel, but with bright scarlet flowers. 
If no flowers can be got, bits of red cotton or other cloth should 
be used. The celebrant then dances round the pot of food, 
with an arrow in his hand, singing any chant he knows, and 
making obeisance to the food by a wave of the arrow. The 
food is then distributed — 

" It is evident this custom cannot apply to those who formerly 
did not eat grain. These, however, were few. Roasted game 
would probably with such take the place of grain, and the latter 
seems only used as the best and most unusual food procurable, 
much as our poor try to provide cake, and not bread and cheese, 
etc. at weddings.... 

" Bodies were never buried until the English Government 
endeavoured to enforce burial. The Vaeddas have not the 
least objection to the corpse being buried, but object greatly to 
being forced to dig the grave... I" 

Although the Sarasins underestimated the importance of 
the Vedda cult of the dead, and failed to discover that even 
*' Nature " Veddas make offerings to the spirits of their departed, 
their opinions and conclusions are necessarily given at some 
length on account of the undoubted importance of their work. 
" The Veddas of Dewilane told us that after death they became 
spirits or yakas, but as to whether these persisted {lebten) or not 
they never thought ; they did not pray to them nor honour 
them. The 'Nature' Veddas from Danigala...told us in 1885 

^ Helideres isora, L. ^ Taprobanian, Vol. i, p. 179. 

10 — 2 


that they worshipped neither their ancestors, nor a devil nor 
a god. Five years later the Veddas settled at Henebedda in 
the Nilgala district told us that they believed that the dead 
became spirits or yakas ; but they did not make offerings to 
them. At Wewatte they likewise believe that the dead become 
yakas and there they invoke them in cases of sickness... gods 
they have none. A Vedda from the neighbourhood of Kalodai 
(Pallegama district) named Manikrala informed us that they 
worshipped children, father, mother, grandfather, grandmother — 
in short their dead relatives. In remembrance of the death 
of such relatives they gave a present to the first Buddhist priest 
whom they met. We therefore asked this ' Culture ' Vedda 
whether his relatives continued to live as spirits after death, 
but he replied that he did not know ; the present of rice was 
simply in remembrance of the deceased man. In answer to 
the further question whether they had a definite religion or 
worshipped a god, he replied that he had never thought about 
it, and he gave us the impression that this question and the idea 
it suggested were new to him. 

" We found the idea of the existence of the departed as spirits 
further developed in an old 'Culture' Vedda of Mudagala 
near Mahaoya, named Sella. He said they had no gods besides 
their departed. Every year at the full moon they consumed 
yams and other food at the burying place. On this occasion 
they hold a dance in honour of the departed, invoke the dead 
by name and pray them to help them. At Omuni the corpses 
were buried in Sinhalese fashion and provided with burial 
presents ; but two Veddas when we questioned them about their 
religion could tell us nothing on this point, and said that the 
departed were not honoured as gods^" 

From these data the Sarasins conclude that "genuine 'Nature* 
Veddas either lack, or at the most have a quite uncertain idea 
of the persistence of the souls of the dead at the site of death,, 
and that they make no offerings to their manesl" Further, 
they state " that among ' Culture ' Veddas this idea has de- 
veloped but little, for they either answered that they did not 
know whether they persisted as souls after death, or that they 

^ op. cit. pp. 497 and 498. * Loc. cit. 


had never thought the matter over. Nevertheless they honour 
the names which like the Sinhalese they call Yakas with food, 
dances or offerings. Any monotheistic idea of God is absent 
both in 'Nature' and in 'Culture' Veddas^" 

The three strata of belief to which we referred at the begin- 
ning of this chapter and which exist among the Veddas of the 
present day, have not fused so thoroughly that there is any 
great difficulty in isolating them. We believe they may be 
tabulated as follows : 

I. The Cult of the dead, including the cult of the spirits 
of recent ancestors, i.e. of the Nae Yaku and the j'ahi of certain 
Veddas who have been long dead and may well be regarded 
as heroes. The most important of these is Kande Yaka. 

II. The Cult of foreign spirits, who have become naturalised 
and have taken the friendly protective nature of the Veddayaka. 

III. The Cult of foreign spirits who, though not often re- 
garded as such, have retained their foreign nature and are in 
the main terrible or even hostile. 

Another feature of the last stratum of thought is the endow- 
ment of true Vedda jfaku with foreign attributes I When the 
history of the island is considered, it is not surprising that the 
first condition, which may be considered the primitive religion 
of the Veddas, should nowhere be found standing alone at the 
present day. It is impossible to say how much the Indian 
invaders influenced the aboriginal inhabitants of Lanka (Ceylon) 
when they took possession of the island under Vijeyo about 
500 B.C., for the few references made to Veddas in the ancient 
chronicles of the country throw no light on this subject. 

Knox mentions that Veddas paid a tribute of game and 
honey to the Sinhalese, and in his day there were "wild and 
tame" Veddas, and it is certain that from the middle ages 
onwards there was a considerable amount of intercourse between 
at least the tamer Veddas and the Sinhalese. Therefore it is 
natural that foreign beliefs should have gradually infiltrated the 
native Vedda cult. 

1 /did. 

^ The invocation (No. XLi)to Ambarapoti Kiriamma given on p. 316 is an excellent 
example of this. Bilindi Yaka is here treated as if he were a Sinhalese or Tamil deity. 


To illustrate and prove these propositions we must examine 
in detail the beliefs of some of the communities in which each 
stage is respectively dominant. The Veddas met at Godatalawa 
and Sitala Wanniya form the best example of the first stage of 
belief In comparing their beliefs it must, however, be remem- 
bered that the Godatalawa family have drifted away from their 
hunting grounds and are in dire want, and that their oldest 
man and leader (now quite infirm though still mentally vigorous) 
was never a shaman and consequently could give only the lay 
opinion of his group on religious matters. It must then not be 
assumed that no spirits beyond the Nae Yakti, Kande Yaka, 
and Bilindi Yaka were known to the shaman of the Galmeda 
community, although the fact that the laymen only knew of 
these spirits shows how vastly more important they were than 
any other. 

The Sitala Wanniya people, on the other hand, were living 
in a condition which must have been general from ancient times 
up to about 70 years ago. Four of the five families had never 
made even rough chena or built bark houses, but lived on game, 
honey and yams and wandered about from rock-shelter to rock- 
shelter within their territory. 

At Godatalawa Kande Yaka and Bilindi Yaka were both 
known though they were not recognised as brothers, and Kande 
Yaka was said to be greater than all other yaku. They are 
the two principal yaku invoked in order to obtain game, but 
with them there are invoked three other yaku, who, it was 
stated, are not the spirits of the dead but have existed ^s yaku 
from the beginning. These were, however, of little importance, 
and our informant, an old man the senior of the group but not 
a shaman, did not remember their names. Kande Yaka and 
Bilindi Yaka would be invoked in order to obtain game at the 
kirikoraJia ceremony, or simply when dancing round an arrow 
struck in the ground. These dances were not in gratitude for 
game already killed, but when the hunting had been successful, 
pieces of flesh from the neck and chest of the kill were cooked 
on the ashes and Kande Yaka and Bilindi Yaka were invoked 
to come to this offering which a few minutes later would be 
consumed by the Veddas. If part of the meat were not thus 


presented to Kande Yaka the hunters would expect bad luck 
in future, and might even be bitten by snakes or attacked by 

The Nae Yakii are the spirits of the dead, they must report 
themselves to Kande Yaka as the chief of all \k\^ yahi and from 
him obtain permission to help the living and accept their offer- 
ings. Kande Yaka comes to the Nae Yakii ceremonies since 
the spirits of the dead could not be present without him. It 
was definitely stated that the spirits of the dead did not become 
yahi until the fifth day after death, but my informant knew 
nothing of the state of the spirits during this period though 
it was surmised that at least part of the time would be passed 
in seeking Kande Yaka or in his company, though there was 
no idea as to where Kande Yaka had his being. It was how- 
ever stated, that the spirits of the dead were in hills, caves and 
rocks. The Nae Yaku including the spirit of the dead man are 
invoked on the fifth day after death. An offering is made of 
coconut milk and rice, if these are obtainable, but if not one 
consisting of yams and water is substituted. The shaman 
dances, holding in his hand a big ceremonial arrow for which 
no special name could be elicited, while the remainder of the 
community gather round. The shaman invokes the Nae Yakit 
and also Kande Yaka and Bilindi Yaka. The shaman becomes 
possessed and is supported lest he fall while the spirit of the 
deceased promises that yams, honey, and game shall be plenti- 
ful. He then sprinkles coconut milk or water from the offering 
on the relatives of the deceased as a sign of the spirit's favour. 
One or more of the relatives of the dead man may also become 
possessed. The shaman gives the relatives water and yams, 
putting their food into their mouths himself while he is pos- 
sessed, and it appeared that this might cause the relatives to 
become possessed. At the end of the ceremony he asks the 
Nae Yakii to depart to where they came from and the spirits 
leave the offering. 

Nothing was known concerning the Kataragam God or the 
kolarnadiia ceremony, though our informants said that they had 
heard of other Veddas performing this ceremony. Gale Yaka 
was not known, nor yet Wanagata Yaka. 


At Sitala Wanniya the principal yaku are Kande Yaka, 
Bilindi Yaka, Bambura Yaka and the Nae Yaku. According 
to these people Kande Wanniya killed his younger brother 
Bilindi when the latter was only an infant. The story is that 
their parents were out hunting when Bilindi, feeling hungry, 
began to cry and would not desist in spite of the endearments 
lavished upon him by Kande. At last Kande threw the child 
on the ground in despair and so killed him. 

It appeared that as a hunting hero Bambura Yaka is on the 
whole as important as Kande Yaka, though he is certainly not 
looked upon as so benevolent nor so loved as the latter, who 
helps men to kill deer and never sends sickness. Bambura 
Yaka is a somewhat grim spirit who although he gives yams 
and helps men to kill pig, also sends sickness and must be 
invoked to remove it, and he is also invoked when dogs are 
lost or taken by leopards. Because of his giving yams he is 
sometimes known as Ale (yam) Yaka, and yams are offered 
to him together with other vegetable food when this can be 

The kirikoraha ceremony is performed to obtain game, in 
gratitude for which the head and a portion of the flesh from 
the breast of every deer killed is cooked as an offering to Kande 
Yaka and is afterwards eaten by the community. If this were 
not done Kande Yaka would be angry and little game would be 

The kirikoraha seen at Sitala Wanniya is described on 
pp. 223 to 226, and the ceremony at which Bambura Yaka is 
invoked on pp. 237 to 245. 

The spirits of the dead become the Nae Yaku and with 
Kande Yaka are invoked for success in hunting; a description 
of this ceremony will be found on pp. 230 to 233. A few days 
after a death the dead man is invoked for assistance in hunting, 
being addressed as mal paenae wa^ina, and when the relatives or 
the group leave the cave to look for game they repeat the 
invocation as they move along. After this, if they are successful, 
they know that the spirit of the dead man has become powerful 
as a Nae Yaku and invoke him at the kirikoraha among the 
Nae Yaku called upon. The Nae Yaku must obtain permission 


to accept offerings from Kande Yaka, and Kande Yaka must 
be invoked before the Nae Yakii to come to the offering, which 
should consist of coconuts, rice, areca nuts, betel leaves and, 
when obtainable, bananas. 

We consider that the beliefs so far described represent the 
first stratum or basis of the Vedda religion and to be of its 
original substance. This is not the case with the remaining 
portion of the religion of the Veddas of Sitala Wanniya, which 
relates to certain foreign spirits who have become naturalised 
N Q.d.6i2L yaku. The Rahu Yaku are spirits of this sort. A fire 
ceremony occurs in the dance by which they are invoked and 
there is no doubt that these j^'/v/ are derived from the Sinhalese 
demon Gini Rahu Bandar. Yet in spite of this they have 
acquired a Vedda history, being regarded as long dead Veddas 
quite unconnected with the Rahu Bandar of the Sinhalese. 
The story concerning them is that long ago three Vedda 
brothers occupied a shelter together and one day one of them 
returned from hunting to find a stranger in the cave with his 
wife. The unknown rushed away and made good his escape, 
but the injured husband made up a big fire and in his rage and 
despair jumped into it. His jaka is one of the Rahu Yaku, the 
other two being the j'akii of his two brothers who did not, 
however, burn themselves to death. 

The help of the three Rahu Yaku is asked to cure sickness, 
to obtain success in hunting, and in collecting rock honey. 
Hunting and honey collecting both have their true Vedda 
patrons Kande Yaka and Dola Yaka, therefore the Rahu Yaku 
seem superfluous in these capacities. Further evidence as to 
their foreign origin is afforded by the fact that they carry 
" swords " {kaduwd), a weapon unknown to Veddas except in 
incantations\ and that all three are considered somewhat 
dangerous, and cause sickness. 

Indigollae Yaka, a foreign spirit (whose origin will be con- 
sidered at length in Chapter vil), is looked upon as an attendant 
upon Kande Yaka in this community. 

The names of certain spirits residing on various hills and 

^ Even these swords, one of which is shown in figure 11 (p. 256), had been 
naturalised and were said to represent aiide. 


rocks were known ; they were said not to be worshipped, although 
they were looked upon with awe and respect as they were 
believed to cause sickness. 

These spirits are the Maha Yakini who are especially asso- 
ciated with the hills Nuwaragala, Walimbagala and a rock called 
Kalumal Ela. The chief of the Maha Yakini is the Maha 
Kiriamma, and the other Maha Yakini are her attendants. 
Although associated with rocks and hill-tops they are not in- 
voked before taking honey in these places. It was stated that 
the Maha Yakini were formerly living people — old women — 
and that they were especially fond of children and might even 
steal them. It is for this reason that infants are protected by 
an arrow struck in the ground, and it is clear that something 
of their character as old Vedda women still survives in spite of 
their generally more or less unfriendly attributes. 

Concerning the Maha Kiriamma nothing definite could be 
learnt : our informant had heard it said that she had been 
invoked in the old days, but knew nothing of this himself. 
Handuna said that what little knowledge they had of the Maha 
Kiriamma had travelled to them from the Bintenne Veddas 
near Horaborawewa^ 

In the Sitala Wanniya community, therefore, the second 
stratum is well developed and the third is indicated. The 
second and third strata, though probably not recently introduced, 
are, however, entirely subsidiary to the primitive cult of the 
friendly dead. 

The Bandaraduwa community is one in which the second 
stratum is so highly developed that at first sight it appears domi- 
nant, for after a death offerings are made to the Buddhist priest, 
but this is only done as an additional means of propitiation of 
the Nae Yaku who are still considered of the first importance, to 
whom an offering is made on the seventh day after death. Further, 
Kande Yaka is still closely associated with the Nae Yaku and 
is invoked with them, but he is no longer formally regarded as 
the Lord of the Dead, that function has been usurped by Kanda 
Swami or Skanda known to these Veddas as " the Kataragam 

^ An invocation to the Maha Kiriamma (No. xxxiii). i fragment of a much longer 
formula (No. xxxix), unknown to our informants, is given in Chapter x. 



God." He is one of the four gods who protect Ceylon, said 
to have come from India, and is worshipped chiefly by Tamils, 
who coming from the north-east frequently pass through the 
territory of the Kovil Vanamai Veddas on their pilgrimage to 
the temple of their God in the south of the island. 

The following information concerning Kataragam is taken 
from Mr Herbert White's Manual of Uva. 

Although the present temple is of brick and of no archi- 
tectural pretensions it is the lineal descendant of the temple 
endowed some 2000 years ago by Dutugamunu, King of Mo- 
gana, as a thank-offering for assistance in overcoming the Tamil 
King Elala\ But Kataragam was a holy place before this, 
for the Mahavansa describes how the princes of Kataragam 
assisted at the planting of the shoots of the sacred Bo tree and 
how one of the miraculously produced offshoots was planted at 
Kataragam itself"-. 

" The aspect and natural features of the country surrounding 
the temple of Kataragama are not calculated to make a favour- 
able impression upon the eye when they first meet it. There 
is nothing in them to attract and invite it. Everything, with 
the exception of the temple and the river on which it stands, 
at the village of Kataragama and its vicinity looks wild, dreary 
and monotonous 

"The population of the village may be estimated at forty, 
including women and children ; but it is liable to fluctuation at 
different periods of the year, from the influx and efilux of the 
pilgrims who resort to the temple. And I need scarcely add 
that the village, its adjacent hills, and the surrounding country, 
are all temple lands, and their occupants are attached to the 
temple service as its tenants^" 

The guardian of the temple and its lands, the latter including 
a domain of some 60,000 acres, is a Buddhist headman resident 
at Badulla, and although there are now no Veddas near Katara- 
gam, tradition states that there were formerly many Veddas in 

1 Kataragam is situated at the south-east of the island, on the left bank of the 
Manik-ganga, at a distance of more than forty miles north-east of Hambantota and 
about sixty miles south-east of Badulla. 

^ Mahavansa, Chapter XIX. 

* Manual of Uva, p. 47. 


the temple forests who in some sense served the temple and 
were known to the Sinhalese as the Kovil Vanamai Veddas, 
Concerning these Nevill says : " This name means Vaeddas of 
the Temple wilds, and they were from time immemorial guards 
of the Katthiragam temple. Their district was from Kumbukan 
Ara to the Temple precincts, and north as far as the settled 

villages of Butala and Maha Vaedda Rata They are said 

traditionally to descend from the Vaeddas who found the noble 
babe Valliamma left in the forest, and reared her as their child \" 
Writing in 1886 Nevill points out that he had himself met the 
last remnants of these people most of whom were, however, "too 
reduced by want and disease to retain any memory for old 

At the present day the sanctity of Kataragam is reputed 
to be due to the tradition that the god halted on the highest 
of its seven hills on his return homeward from the conquest of 
the Asuras. " The particular spot... where Kataragama first met 
Valliammal in the guise of a hungry and thirsty paiidaram, or 
mendicant, and begged of her to appease his hunger and quench 
his thirst, when she was watching her chena cultivation as the 
adopted daughter of a Vedda chief, and preparing cakes from 
a composition of honey and savii or milled flour, is pointed out 
at a distance of more than four miles from the temple. The 
precise spot again, with footmarks of an elephant on a rock, 
where she had suddenly encountered the ponderous brute and 
entreated the patidaravi to protect her from its attacks, is also 
shown to the enthusiastic pilgrim-." 

Now Valliamma was the daughter, or the adopted daughter, 
of a Vedda, and to this day such Veddas as those of Bandara- 
duwa who have come under the influence of Hinduism, although 
acknowledging that the Kataragam God, whom they do not call 
by any other name, is greater than the Nae Yakti, nevertheless 
hold him in less awe and treat him with less formality than do 
the Tamils and Sinhalese. 

These Veddas know nothing of the other three great gods 
who protect Ceylon, and they regard Valliamma as a Vedda 
and speak of her as their elder sister {akka), while the Kataragam 

1 Oi>. at. Vol. I, p. i8o. ^ Manual of Uva, p. 50. 


God is almost, if not quite, thought of as their brother-in-law. 
In fact the divinity of the God and of his consort has not 
among the Veddas reached the proportions it has among the 
Sinhalese and Tamils. It has already been stated that among 
the Sinhalese the spirits of the dead who desire to become 
Banddra present themselves to the Kataragam God, and from 
him obtain permission to receive offerings of cooked food {adiikkii) 
in return for benefits to be conferred, or to smite men with 
sickness and other disasters, and we were told that the Kata- 
ragam God would not refuse any spirit who approached him 
with this requests 

Further, these Veddas hold that the man may become pos- 
sessed by the Kataragam God in the same way as by the Nae 
Yaku, and the god is worshipped at certain shrines in the Kovil 
Vanamai district which are traditionally associated with Veddas 
and are said to be of Vedda origin. One of these at a place 
called Kokkadichchola is said to have arisen as follows. 

A Vedda and his wife were cutting the trunk of a tree for 
honey when the tree began to bleed and they found in it not 
a bee's nest but an infant. The Vedda became possessed and 
while this condition lasted the God within him announced 
that he was the Kataragam God and that a temple must be 
built to him there. When the Vedda returned to his senses the 
child could not be found, but in its place was an image of the 

Returning to the beliefs held by the Bandaraduwa people 
concerning the Nae Yaku, these can be best illustrated and 
explained by considering the events following the death of a 
Kovil Vanamai man called Tuta. 

The day after our arrival at Bandaraduwa a Vedda called 
Kaira came to our camp sobbing and shaking and protesting 
that he could not stay long with us as his brother was dead. 
He seemed deeply affected, though another brother, Kaurale, 
who was with him appeared quite calm, which led us to suspect 
that his uncontrollable agitation was due to something more 
than mere affection for the dead man, and we soon discovered 

^ This belief in spirits of tlie dead obtaining license from the Kataragam God is 
also held by some rural Sinhalese. 


that this brother had h'ved with him and died in his hut, and 
that it was his duty to make an offering to the nearest Buddhist 
priest and to provide the necessities for a dance to the Xae 
Yaku, and that he had not the wherewithal to do these things. 
If these duties were neglected the spirit of the dead man would 
be angry, and after seven days when the spirit had become a 
yaka would cause misfortune and sickness and perhaps kill him. 
His manifest relief when we offered him the money needed to 
purchase the offerings showed that his sorrow for the loss of his 
brother was the least of his troubles, and he was quite gay when 
he started on his twenty mile walk to the nearest boutique with 
Rs. 3"50 in his betel pouch, and readily assented to our con- 
dition that he must return with his purchases so that the Nae 
Yaku ceremony might be performed near our camp. The local 
shaman, who was Vidane of the Vedda settlement, was perfectly 
ready to agree to this, indeed it suited him well, for it saved 
him the trouble of walking some eight miles to the scene of 
the death, and as he pointed out, the Xae Yaku could be in- 
voked as well in one place as in another. It was important 
that the Nae Yaku dance should be held on the seventh day 
after death, since it was thought that the spirit of the dead man, 
which became a yaka on the third day after death, resorted to 
the Kataragam God and on the seventh day obtained authority 
from him to accept offerings and to help or molest the living 
according to the way in which he was treated by them. We 
were assured that whatever the intentions of the relations might 
be with regard to the spirit of the dead man, no danger was 
to be apprehended until the seventh day when the Nae Yaku 
ceremony should be performed, though this could not be done 
unless alms had previously been given to a Buddhist priest. 
The offerings which must be given to the priest are worth nearly 
three rupees and consist of the following foods and other objects. 
The numbers in parentheses after each object show the price 
in cents at the nearest boutique, some fifteen or twenty miles 
from Bandaraduwa. Rice 3 measures (60), 2 coconuts (20), 
50 balls of jaggery sugar (15), 25 areca nuts (6), 5 tobacco 
leaves (12), 100 betel leaves (18), i plate (30), i cup (25), i mat 
(25), I handkerchief (36), half a bottle of coconut oil (50), the 


total amounting to 2 Rs. 97 cents. The offering made to the 
Nae Yaku cost only 40 cents and consisted of a coconut, 50 betel 
leaves and a measure of rice. 

The actual ceremony at which the spirit of the dead man 
was invoked and offerings made to it is described in Chapter IX, 
pp. 233 to 237. 

Certain of the invocations used by the Kovil Vanamai 
Veddas, for instance, in invocation (No. xxxiv) to IndigoHae Ki- 
riamma for success in hunting and the invocations sung at the 
kolamaduwa ceremony, especially that to Unapane Kiriamma 
(No. xxxvill), show how greatly foreign influence has altered the 
character of spiritual beings who existed in the original Vedda 

The Veddas of Uniche form a community in much the same 
stage of belief as the Veddas of Bandaraduwa. A few days 
after death the spirit of the deceased obtains permission from a 
"chief" to accept offerings and a.-sist or harm the living. Our 
informants could not tell us who this chief was, but appeared 
to think that he had lived in comparatively recent times, and 
were confident that he was not Kande or Bilindi Yaka. 

The Nae Yaku, including the spirit of the dead man, are 
invoked a few, perhaps five, days after a death has taken place. 
A pot of coconut milk with betel leaves in it is placed upon a 
rice pounder, and the shaman, holding a ceremonial arrow in 
each hand, dances round this, invoking the spirits, including 
that of the dead man. When possessed, the shaman sprinkles 
some of the coconut milk on the relatives and places betel 
leaves on their chests ; the shaman also feeds the relatives 
from the bowl of coconut milk. The object of this dance is 
said to be to enable the prajia karaya to become a Nae Yaka. 
It is clear that this is simply a condensed account of the 
ceremony we witnessed at Bandaraduwa, described on pp. 233 
to 237. 

The conditions prevailing at Henebedda, which at first were 
most puzzling, were found to be largely due to the influence 
of Tissahami " the Vedda Arachi," whose strong personality 
has been already referred to on p. 41. This man had taught the 
present Henebedda shaman much of his lore, and the latter 


was but too anxious to assimilate and practise all that the 
Arachi would teach him. The knowledge he thus acquired 
spread to the younger members of the tribe, such as Sita 
Wanniya, who obviously took more interest in the ceremonial 
observances of his religion than any other of the younger men 
we met, and it was said that he would probably be the next 
shaman. The older men, on the other hand, appeared to know 
little of the developments introduced by the Arachi. To them 
Kande Yaka, Bilindi Yaka and the Nae Yaku were not only 
the most important spiritual powers, but appeared to be the 
only ones who were at all well known ; the simplicity of the 
eschatological beliefs of these older men has already been re- 
ferred to on p. 126 and agrees wonderfully well with those 
described by Bailey in 1863. "The result of the most patient 
inquiry is, that the Veddahs have a vague belief in a host of 
undefined spirits, whose influence is rather for good than evil. 
...They believe that the air is peopled by spirits, that every 
rock and every tree, every forest and every hill, in short every 
feature of nature, has its genius loci; but these seem little else 
than mere nameless phantoms, whom they regard rather with 
mysterious awe than actual dread. ...But besides this vague 
spirit-worship, they have a more definite superstition, in which 
there is more of system. This is the belief in the guardianship 
of the spirits of the dead. Every relative becomes a spirit after 
death, who watches over the welfare of those who are left 
behind. These, which include their ancestors and their children, 
they term their ' nehya yakoon,' kindred spirits. They describe 
them as 'ever watchful, coming to them in sickness, visiting 
them in dreams, giving them flesh when hunting.' In short in 
every calamity, in every want they call on them for aid ; and it 
is curious that the shades of their departed children, ' bilindoo 
yakkoon,' or infant spirits, as they call them, are those which 
they appear most frequently to invoke.... 

" The ceremonies with which they invoke them are few as 
they are simple. The most common is the following: an arrow 
is fixed upright in the ground, and the Veddah dances slowly 
round it, chanting this invocation, which is almost musical in 
its rhythm : 


' Ma miya, ma miya, ma deya, 
Topang koyihetti mittigan yandah ! ' 

' My departed one, my departed one, my God ! 
Where art thou wandering ? ' 

The spirit of the dead is here simply called upon, without even 
the object for which it is invoked being mentioned. And this 
invocation appears to be used on all occasions, when the inter- 
vention of the guardian spirit is required, in sickness, preparatory 
to hunting, etc. 

" Sometimes, in the latter case, a portion of the flesh of the 
game is promised as a votive offering, in the event of the chase 
being successful ; and they believe that the spirits will appear 
to them in dreams and tell them where to hunt. 

" Sometimes they cook food and place it in the dry bed of 
a river, or some other secluded spot, and then call on their 
deceased ancestors by name. * Come, and partake of this ! Give 
us maintenance as you did when living ! Come ! wheresoever 
you may be ; on a tree, on a rock, in the forest, come ! ' and 
they dance round the food, half chanting, half shouting, the 

" They have no knowledge of a Supreme Being. ' Is he on 
a rock ? On a white ant-hill ? On a tree ? I never saw a God ! ' 
was the only reply I received to repeated questions. They 
have no idols, offer no sacrifices, and pour no libations. They 
cannot be said to have any temples, for the few sticks sometimes 
erected, with a branch thrown over them, are, I imagine, simply 
to protect their votive offerings^" 

Although in essentials this account is accurate, certain cor- 
rections and suggestions must be made. The "bilindoo yak- 
koon" are not "infant spirits" but obviously represent Bilindi 
Yaka who became a.j/aka while still a child. The arrow dance 
is clearly described and agrees with the dance we saw and 
photographed near Bendiyagalge, figures of which are given in 
Plate XXVI. 

With regard to the spirits of the dead appearing in dreams 
and stating where game will be found, this, which is quite con- 
tradictory to our experience, has already been referred to on 

^ J. Bailey, oj>. cit. pp. 300 — 303. 
S. V. II 


p. 135, but it may be noted that Bailey clearly did not know 
of the existence of shamanistic ceremonies and we have little 
doubt that the information given him, which he took to refer 
to dreams, in fact described the experiences of possession. The 
"few sticks... with a branch thrown over them" are clearly 
remains of the maesa upon which the offerings are placed. 

The MaJia Yakino are the spirits of old Vedda women, the 
chief of whom is the Maha Kiriamma, who, as Bailey pointed out 
in 1863, is more feared than loved, and in many cases is sup- 
posed to send sickness. It was said that her name was Anami 
and that she lived at Okegala near Alutnuwara, dying of old 
age ; but in spite of these circumstantial details, which are 
perhaps due to the teachings of Tissahami, neither the name 
nor the memory of her husband has survived. 

Unapane Kiriamma is another important Maha Yakini who 
lived near Unapane^ 

Unapane Kiriamma also gives luck in honey getting, and 
it is thought that she in some way causes bees to build good 
combs, in fact, all the MaJia Yakino are associated with rock 
honey from the belief that they especially affect the rocky 
crests of hills-. 

Although the Maha Yakino are looked upon as the spirits 
of old Vedda women and are reputed to show their fondness 
for children by kidnapping them, they are regarded with con- 
siderable awe, for they are considered to send disease, and it 
is necessary to make an offering to them in order that this 
may be removed. This is generally done at the kolamaduiva 
ceremony described on p. 268. With the exception of the 

■■ She is known to the jungle Sinhalese of the Vedirata, who state that with her 
husband Unai^ane Kaiia Wanniya she made the Unapane paddy fields. She is 
particularly invoked by barren women, and those who have brought forth still-born 
children, for increase of cattle and milk, to prevent cattle being taken by leopards or 
damaging the crops and to give good harvests. 

^ Offerings of honey made to the Maha Yakino are described elsewhere. The 
belief that the Maha Yakino are especially associated with hills is also found among 
the Sinhalese of the Vedda country, who especially associate these spirits with hills 
on which springs are found or on which streams arise. One such hill near Nilgala, 
which at the end of the rains has many small streams running down its face, is known 
as Yakini Ela and is especially associated by the neighbouring Sinhalese with the 
Maha Yakino, who they say can be heard moving about the crest at night. 


invocation of the MaJia Yakino at the kolaniadmva ceremony 
the beHefs of the Henebedda people, old and young, as far as 
we have described them, belong to the true Vedda stratum, but 
we must now record a number oi yakii including Panikkia Yaka, 
who are equally believed in by the peasant Sinhalese of the 
Vedda country and who, like Panikkia Yaka, are probably all 
yakii of important Veddas who were village Veddas or lived 
in more or less organized contact with the Sinhalese. These 
yaku are : 

Mawaragala Panikkia, invoked to give good fortune and 
avert sickness from man and beast. 

Rerangala Yaka who lived in the Uva Bintenne and was 
particularly expert at noosing elephants, though it is not known 
whether he first practised this art. He died of old age, and is 
invoked to prevent sickness, particularly epidemic diseases, and 
to give prosperity in all things. 

Lepat Yaka lived at Lepatgala in the Bintenne and was 
called Lepatgala Wanniya ; nothing is known of his life or 
death. T\i\s yaka is invoked during epidemics and before hunt- 
ing to prevent danger from wild animals. 

Hantane Mahavedi Unehe who lived on Mawaragala, and 
of whose life and death nothing is known, is invoked to cure 
sickness and to give good fortune in hunting. 

Walimbagala Yaka, whom the Veddas of Uva call Walim- 
bagala Panikkia, formerly lived on Walimbagala between 
Bandaraduwa and Madana in the Eastern Province. He was 
a great and important chief and his spirit is invoked to cure 
sickness, to send game and to safeguard men taking honey. 

Galaridi Bandar lived on Veragodagala near Nilgala. He 
was an expert at capturing elephants, which he used to present 
to the Kandyan kings. Galaridi Bandar is reputed to have 
constructed dagobas and to have brought a range of paddy 
fields under cultivation. 

Kadaelle Nalla Panikkia was sO good a huntsman that he 
could run down deer. It is not known where he lived, he is 
invoked at the kolamadiiwa only. 

Rangrual Bandar is invoked to prevent men falling when 
collecting honey, and also at the kolamaduwa. 

II — 2 


Irugal Bandar is invoked to prevent epidemics and at the 
kolamaduzva ceremony ^ 

Sandugal Bandar is invoked before hunting and safeguards 
men from the attacks of wild animals and snake-bite. 

Ranhoti Bandar, a Vedda chief who lived at Hamanawa in 
Nilgala Chorale. His spirit is a very important yaka and not 
to be invoked carelessly along with others at the kolaniaduwa, but 
when properly approached will help his suppliants in many ways. 

Gauge Bandar was in charge of rivers and also of insect 
pests. It is said that he belonged to the Morane wartige, 
though his place is not known. He is invoked at the. kolamaduwa, 
and when there is not enough rain or too much. 

With these yaku, all of whom were said to be the spirits of 
dead Veddas, there were invoked two spirits of whom it was 
definitely said that they were not Veddas. The first of these 
was Peradeneya Bandar who lived at Peradeneya near Kandy, 
where he was dissava. He prevents harm from wild beasts, and 
his protection is invoked during storms and at the kolamadttwa. 
Clearly t\ns yaka is the spirit of a man of great local influence, 
probably comparable to that exerted by Godegedara whose 
canonisation is recorded on p. 143. The other yaka Kalu 
Bandar is more imiportant and is widely feared throughout the 
Vedda-Sinhalese zone from Alutnuwara to the Eastern Province. 
According to the Vedda Arachi he was a native of Mallawa in 
India^. King Vijaya was frightened by a leopard and this man 
cured him of the sickness produced by fear ; he is invoked to 
procure game and at the kolamadinva. 

We must point out that although we give these yakii as if 
a belief in them constituted an organic part of the Henebedda 
creed, and although the kolaniaduwa ceremony is certainly 
performed by the Henebedda community, we consider that the 
belief in many of them is purely formal ; we are convinced 
that a number of these yaku are never called upon or even 
considered except when invoked as part of the routine of the 
kolamadiiwa ceremony. Further, we think it probable that a 

1 Mr Parker informs us that " Irugal Bandara was a Sinhalese chief who is said to 
have lived at Bandara Koswatta( where Knox dwelt) in the roign of King Wijaja Bahu." 

^ Mr Parker suggests that this may be Mahva in the Central Provinces of India 
or more probably Malawara, Malayalam. 


number of these jaku, especially Irugal Bandar and the other 
Bandar, may have been introduced since Bailey's time. It is 
even possible that Tissahami may be responsible in part. 

The reference to King Vijaya shows that Kalu Bandar has 
nothing to do with the primitive beliefs of the Veddas, for no 
Vedda knew anything of Vijaya or Kuweni. 

Before describing the beliefs of the village Veddas, among 
whom the third stratum of thought is dominant, the condition 
of the Veddas of Unuwatura Bubula (who have moved there 
from Mudugala) must be considered and compared with those 
of both the wilder and the village Veddas. Many of the j/aku 
of the less sophisticated communities were known to them, and 
some invoked by the village Veddas were also called upon at 
Unuwatura Bubula. Although Kande Yaka was known and 
considered powerful to send game and cure sickness, apparently 
he was no longer Lord of the Dead, as he was not invoked at 
the alutyakagania (see p. 260) to which the Nae ]akji were 
called. A structure called a bulatyaJiana was built for him and 
a Hindu trident as well as an mide was held when he was 
invoked. Bilindi Yaka was known, but we have no note as to 
whether he was considered the brother of Kande Yaka or no. 
Bambura Yaka and his attendants known to the Veddas of 
Sitala Wanniya and Uniche were unknown here. Pata Yaka 
(Sitala Wanniya) had been heard of but had never been invoked. 
The Wanegatha Yaku were of considerable importance here, 
they were said to be the yaku of long dead Veddas who had 
perished in their rock-shelter owing to a fall of rock. Indigollae 
Yaka (the attendant of Kande Yaka at Sitala Wanniya) was 
known here and considered extremely powerful ; when really 
short of food, offerings are made to him and his wife Indigollae 
Yakini, and the shaman thrusts an aiide into the roof of his hut 
and hangs on it a string of beads which are kept specially for 
this purpose, and then Indigollae Yaka sends game. We were 
told that no charm or invocation accompanied this action. 

We did not realise at the time of our visit that Indigollae 
Yaka might be another name for Gale Yaka, but this appears 
not unlikely in view of information furnished by Mr Parker, 
and the fact that Gale Yaka was here invoked with the Nae 


Yaku, while at nearly all the village Vedda communities Indi- 
gollae Yaka was said to bring the Nae Yaku. Certainly Gale 
Yaka, Indigollae Yaka and Kande Yaka were all known by 
name, but there seemed much confusion between them all : 
perhaps Gale Yaka had become Lord of the Dead as he was 
invoked before the Nac Yaku in the same ceremony ; Kande 
Yaka and Bilindi Yaka were invoked at a separate ceremony. 
No hint was given us that Gale Yaka and Indigollae Yaka were 
names for the same spirit, but of course this may have been so. 
The information that Indigollae Yaka was extremely powerful 
both to bring evil upon man and to help them to get game 
was, however, volunteered and, as already mentioned, some old, 
specially valuable beads were kept to be offered to him. 

Gale Yaka was also invoked to give success when gathering 
honey ; he appeared to be associated with a certain rock near 
Mahaella, and we were told that beads were worn during the 

The Maha Kiriamma was said to be one of the most powerful 
of the Maha Yakino, a class of female spirits who were said to 
send sickness \ Unapane Yakini (Unapane Kiriamma) was 
another yakini of the same class who was thought to live at 
Omunigala. Here as among many other groups of Veddas the 
Maha Yakino were associated with hill tops, and it was the 
custom for people collecting the honey of the rock bee to leave 
a piece of the comb in situ, saying, " Eat, O Kiriamma-." 

When the Maha Yakino are invoked to cure sickness a 
basket is used in which are put a bead necklace and bangles and 
the leaves of a Jia tree. The shaman becomes possessed and 
raises the basket above the patient's head and prophesies re- 
covery. The leaves are subsequently thrown away, but the 
beads and bangles are preserved for the Yakino. Presumably 
this is the origin of the similar or identical use of these objects 
in the kohiniadinva ceremony which, however, appears to be of 
Sinhalese origin. 

^ Nothing was ever said to cause us to suspect that she was connected with Gale 
Yaka or Indigollae Yaka. 

^ Kiriamma is in the plural in the Sinhalese, showing mat all the Maha Yakino 
in the neighbourhood were invoked to partake. 


Gauge Bandar, unknown among the wilder Veddas but 
worshipped by all village Veddas, was known at Unuwatura 


The history of this settlement dating back to the first half of 
the last century has been given on pp. 45 and 46. The Omuni 
folk believe there are spirits {yakii) everywhere in the jungle, but 
none have seen them ; further, there are many yakic of each 
kind or species such as the Indigollae Yaku, the Dadayan Yaku 
and many others including the Gale Yaku called the Jungle 
Yaku, who do not, however, frequent the jungle around Omuni. 
It was said that Ganga Bandar Deyo who lives in rocks in the 
river is greater than any of these. Omuni was one of the first 
Vedda settlements we visited, and as the importance of Sinhalese 
and Tamil gods and demons was not then appreciated no 
questions concerning these were asked. It is, however, reason- 
able to suppose that the Kataragam God and other mighty 
deviyo are worshipped. The spirits of the dead {^Nae Yakii) are 
believed to be associated with rocks ; on the whole they are 
kindly spirits, but it is necessary to invoke and propitiate them. 

A Nae Yaku ceremony is held some little time after a death 
has taken place, at which the shaman dances with an imde before a 
viaesa on which is placed an offering of cooked yams and other 
food, and the maesa is decorated with special clothes kept for that 
purpose. The aude is held in the smoke arising from gum-resin 
thrown on glowing charcoal, and then pressed on the head of all 
the male members of the community. If this were not done 
little game would be killed. 

We have an account of another ceremony performed to cure 
sickness and when the chena had been reaped, but it is not clear 
what spirits were invoked at this ; presumably the most im- 
portant of these were certain of the yakjt other than the Nae 
Yaku, though the Nae Yaku may have played a subordinate 
part. A shed or very rough house is built and hung with special 
clothes reserved for this purpose, those shown to us being rather 
old and worn pieces of linen woven at Batticaloa. A roughly 
made shelf forming a sort of altar is built in the shed on which 


the offering is placed. The dance is held at night and continues 
until morning when the whole community eat the offering, 
though only the men dance. We were shown a pot in a small 
cave near the settlement which was said to be kept there pur- 
posely, and w^hich it was stated was used for boiling rice for the 

We may now consider the religious beliefs of certain com- 
munities in which the third stratum of belief already alluded to 
is dominant. Such communities are the village Veddas of Uva 
Bintenne and those of the Eastern Province and Tamankaduwa, 
among all of whom the Nae Yaku were known and reverenced, 
but the great Vedda heroes have all disappeared, their place 
having been taken by numerous Sinhalese gods and demons. 
Some of the village Veddas even build temples, rough bark or 
mud huts like their own habitations in which the various 
symbols of the dcviyo zxiA yakii are kept and in which the shaman 

Such a temple was seen at Yakure dedicated to Gauge 
Bandar Deyo, here also were two rough stones leaning against 
a tree on the bund of Yakurewaewa which were held sacred to 
Gane Deyo (Ganesa). 

At a place called Nadena, where there were said to be 
Veddas until a few years ago, on the road running inland from 
Patrippu in the Eastern Province, there is a temple containing 
an image of Ganesa and this is looked upon as a Vedda shrine. 
Other temples or shrines in the Eastern Province are traditionally 
associated with Veddas though none survive at the present 
day, except, we believe, at Portiv near Patrippu and at Mandur. 

Village Veddas of the Bintenne. 

At Dambani and the neighbouring settlements of Buluga- 
haladena and Wellampelle the Nae Yaku are held to be of 
great importance. Reference has already been made on p. 50 
to the difficulty of working with these village Veddas, and our 
information concerning the religious beliefs of the Dambani folk 
was obtained from the Arachi of Belligala; with regard to 
Bulugahaladena and Wellampelle the litt'j information we 
possess was obtained at first hand and carefully checked, and 


though incomplete we have no doubt of its substantial accuracy 
as far as it goes. We had considerable doubts as to the relia- 
bility of our Dambani information, but these have been removed 
lately as far as they affect Kande Yaka and the Nae Yaku 
owing to the kindness of Mr Hartshorne who allowed us to 
look through a number of notes collected among these people 
thirty years ago. And since the information obtained from the 
Arachi of Belligala was correct on these points, there seems to 
be no reason to disbelieve the rest of his information. 

According to the Arachi, who, it must be remembered, as 
stated on p. 49, knows the Dambani folk well, there are three 
important classes of yaku. 

The first of these are the Nae Yaku who do not go to Kande 
Yaka but to Indigollae Yaka, who lives on a hill {kande) called 
Indigollae Kande which never has been seen. Indigollae Yaka 
is first invoked at the Nae Yaku ceremony and with him come 
the Nae Yaku. An aude is used in calling upon Indigollae 
Yaka in this ceremony, while the Nae Yaku are invoked by 
means of a cloth and beads ; as among other Veddas an offering 
of food is made. 

We could not discover with certainty at Dambani what was 
the relative importance of the Nae Yaku and the two other 
classes of yaka, but at Bulugahaladena and Wellampelle our 
informants made it quite clear that the yakii of recent ancestors 
were the most important. Thus Kuma stated that he con- 
sidered his father's yaka to be the most important of all and 
that this spirit was invoked alike to send game and in thanks 
for game killed. 

Bandia of Wellampelle said the most important yaka he 
knew was Punchi Badena, his father's father ; his mother is dead 
but her yaka is not so important ^ Punchi Badena is invoked 
to get game and honey or when people are sick. At all three 
villages a structure, which from the description given to us 
resembles an alutyakagama, is built for the invocation of the 
Nae Yaku, to whom the customary offerings are made before 

1 We have no note that the father of Kuma was dead ; although we do not 
remember definitely inquiring about this our impression is that both parents had been 
dead for some time. 


being eaten by the community. A man becomes a.faka directly 
he is dead, nothing is buried with him and the contents of his 
betel pouch are used in the ordinary way. The Nae Yaku 
ceremony is held some days after death, one, or according to 
another informant two, aude being used. 

At Bulugahaladena and Wellampelle neither Bilindi Yaka 
nor Bambura Yaka was known, and these two yaku were also 
unknown at Dambani where, however, the Belligala Arachi said 
that Kande Yaka gives luck in hunting. This has been con- 
firmed by Mr Hartshorne's notes, so that although our informants 
at Bulugahaladena and Wellampelle stated that they did not 
know \X\\'& yaka, too much stress must not be laid upon this. 

The other two classes of yaku invoked at Dambani are 
tree and rock yaku. Both send sickness and are invoked with 
dancing and offerings to remove it, the stone magic described 
on p. 143 being used to determine which yaka is responsible for 
the disease. The most important rock yahi are Mawaragala 
Yaka, Rerangala Yaka, Barutugala Yaka, and Mehaluku Yakini. 
The latter is associated with a rock Batugala near Alutnuwara, 
the others with the peaks whose names they bear. 

Two tree yaku were mentioned, each having a number of 
attendants. These tree yaku are named Na Gaha Yaka (Na 
tree Yaka) and Bo Gaha Yaka (Bo tree Yaka), that is to say 
they are called after the trees with which they are associated, 
and the Arachi pointed out that tree yaku habitually lived in 
trees of the species after which they are named. We could not 
discover any facts suggesting that these tree yaku were con- 
sidered to represent the life of the tree. 


The surroundings and physical characters of the Veddas of 
Horaborawewa have been described on p. 53. The shaman is 
the local Sinhalese headman, who stated that the samejv^/lv/ are 
invoked by Veddas and Sinhalese alike. Seren (Riri) Yaka is 
the most important yaka, Wiloya Yaka and Kalu Yaka are also 
known, and it was stated that the latter spirit was also called 
Wangata Yaka. Our informant had not he-rd of Kande Yaka 
or Bilindi Yaka, and it was certain that the worshipped yaku 


were generally associated with rocks and were not the spirits of 
the dead. There is however an exception, namely, Dehigole 
Yaka, whose history is as follows. A man from Dehigole, a 
Vedda, went to Kandy to see the king, probably Sri Vikram 
Rajah Sinha, the last of the Sinhalese kings, who was dethroned 
early in the last century. On his way back he was killed by an 
elephant, and now his spirit looks after the chena and prevents 
elephants breaking into and destroying the crops. A leafy 
branch is tied to a pole or dead tree in the chena, and Dehigole 
Yaka and other spirits are invoked, an offering of sweetmeats, 
jaggery, coconuts and rice cooked in coconut milk being made 
and subsequently eaten by the owners of the chena. There was 
said to be no invocation of the yaku of the recent dead, nor 
before taking honey which is obtained from trees. 


The "Veddas" described on p. "jG from Lindegala in the 
neighbourhood of Kallodi worship a large number of male 
and female spirits including the Bo Gaha Yaka and the Na 
Gaha Yaka^ 

As already indicated the people of Lindegala are Veddas in 
scarcely more than name. The most important of them, an old 
man with his son and son-in-law, visited us at Kallodi. The old 
man who is tall and presented typical Sinhalese features is 
a renowned vederale (medicine-man) and is employed by the 
Sinhalese for miles round. He brought with him to show us 
two ceremonial arrows with which he invoked the spirits. One 
of these arrows is of the shape of a Hindu trident, the other is 
of the usual Vedda shape and is notable on account of the silver 
bo leaf with which the blade is inlaid. This aude is shown in 
Plate XXV. Both of these had been presented by the Sinhalese 
king to one of his ancestors, apparently about 100 years ago. 

^ Although these jrt/v^ were spoken of in tlie singular there were many individuals 
of each species. Some of the other more important ja/^« which were worshipped were 
named, Wategala Wanniya, Gala Degala Wanniya, Gurugala Wanniya, Maldampahe 
Yaka, Lepat Yaka, Eheregala Yaka, Meheregal Yaka, Komal Yaka, Walmat Yaka, 
Hilihungale Yaka, Mikmal Naida Yaka, Kehelpotagale Yaka, Mawaragala Yaka, 
Hereng Yaka, Inihangala Wanniya, Muluhangala Wanniya, Gara Rajah Wanniya. 
These were only an insignificant fraction of the total number of yaktt known to our 
oldest informant. 



The story told us was that when this ancestor, who was a Vedda 
headman and a shaman of great fame, gave up his jungle life 
and began to cultivate, the Sinhalese king sent him the two 
aude as tokens that he granted the land on which he settled to 
him and his descendants for ever. It seems that previously 
to this they had led a more or less unsettled life, or had 
perhaps been dispossessed of their own territory during the 
troubles of the period. The arrows were in fact " seisin " and 
were considered the equivalent of a sannasa, the inscribed metal 
plate or rock face on which grants of land were formerly 
recorded. Inquiry showed that it was by no means uncommon 
for a man to be given a ceremonial example of an implement of 
his trade or profession as a santiasa. Thus, in the Kandy 
Museum there is a beautifully worked Bull's bell (ygomninigediya) 
given as sannasa to Rantun Mudianse of Walala head of the 
Pattiya or Nilamakkara people by King Narendara Singhe of 
Kundasale who reigned 1706— 1739. We may also refer to a 
ceremonial weaver's shuttle in the Colombo Museum and to the 
lacquered arrows described in Chapter XI. 

The Nae Yakn, Kande Yaka, and Wanegata Yaka are con- 
sidered less important than the tree yakn and the host oi yaku 
alluded to above. Indigollae Yaka and Rahu Yaka are 
recognised but not considered very powerful, though it was said 
that all these were formerly invoked to give success in hunting. 
The kolaviaduwa ceremony is known, very many spirits being 
invoked including Unapane Kiriamma. The Nae Yakii become 
attendants on some of t\iQ yaku mentioned in the above list and 
these are invoked first and bring the Nae Yakii with them, but it 
appeared that it was no longer the custom to hold a Nae Yakic 
ceremony within a few days of a death. Among the Nae Yaku 
mentioned was the spirit of the man on whom one of the last 
Sinhalese kings had bestowed the land of which the inlaid aude 
shown in Plate XXV is the sannasa. Another yaka greatly 
venerated is that of Kimbul Otbe,an important individual living 
a few generations ago concerning whom Nevill has written at 
some length \ 

1 Nevill, who says that he could find no clue to his identity, still regarded Kimbul 
Otbe as "a great historical personage," for "The Sinhalese of the Eastern Province 

Plate XXV 

Aiide with inlaid silver Bo leaf 

religion 173 


The most important spiritual agencies are the following : — 
Gange Bandar Deyo, Kataragam Deyo, Indigollae Yaka, 
Rerang Yaka, Riri Yaka (Sinhalese), Marulu Yaka, Rahu 
Yaka, and Elle Yakini. 

In spite of the fact that the people of Kalukalaeba keep 
cattle and are predominantly agriculturalists Gange Bandar 
Deyo, who lives on the hill Yangala beyond Hemberewa and 
gives luck in hunting and honey gathering, was said to be 
especially important. He is invoked when game is scarce, but 
it is the Kataragam God who gives increase of yams and 
vegetable food. They do not dance to him but make offerings 
of cooked brinjal and pumpkins, which are left for half-a-day on a 
rude altar and then eaten. Chena are also under the protection of 
the Kataragam God to whom offerings are made after the produce 
has been reaped, some of every kind of fruit being cooked and ex- 
posed in the chena for some hours before it is eaten by the people. 

At Kalukalaeba Kande Yaka, Bilindi Yaka and Bambura 
Yaka were unknown. The spirits of the dead are recognised as 
the Nae Yakic, but they are certainly thought of as far less 
important than a number of other spiritual beings to be imme- 
diately considered. They are however invoked, but it seemed 
that this was not done habitually immediately after a deatli, but 
at quite uncertain intervals to remove sickness. The father of 

and Bintenne, and Nilgala, alike agree that he was a great and powerful prince. They 
speak of him often, and call him Barangala Kimbul-Herat mudiyanse Rajapat Wanni- 
unaehe. From the name Herat it is manifest he headed some great political movement.... 
Raja-pat probably means king-maker, and the whole title may be translated as 'His 
Excellency the General Kimbul-Otbe of Barangala, the king-maker Lord-of-the- 
Marches,' or else the 'King-made Lord-of-the-Marches,' wanni, literally a forest or 
waste, being used exactly as we use the term 'marches,' of Wales or Scotland. The 
respect of the Sinhalese, and this elaborate title of highest honour, show that this great 
Vaedda Chieftain headed an army that replaced one of the Sinhalese kings upon the 
throne of his ancestors. I think it is more probable he figured in a comparatively 
modern war than in a very ancient one. ...It is perfectly likely that Kimbul-Otbe was 
a prince of the Sinhala royal family, who married a Vaedda.... 

" The supposition that Kimbul-Otbe was a Sinhala, and that he married either a 
Bandara or an Unapana lady, would thus account for the otherwise unexplained fact 
that the Sinhalese say some of their oldest and best families also descended from 
Kimbul-Otbe, though they did not know whether he was really a Vaedda or was 
claimed by the Vaeddas in mistake, having been their prince." Op. cit. Vol. I, p. 176. 


the present shaman was called Suwanda, and no dance to his 
spirit was held till a long time, perhaps as much as a year, after 
his decease. But when the shaman's mother became ill he was 
invoked and offerings were made, with the result that the patient 
got well. In connection with this it was explained that it was not 
unusual for theiV^^ Yakn to make even their nearest and dearest 
relatives ill for the sake of the offerings they would then receive. 

It was stated that the Nae Yaku are not allowed to kill 
people but only to make them ill, permission to do this and 
to accept offerings being obtained from Kataragam Deyo, Saman 
Deyo, and Numeriya Deyo. We could not ascertain with 
certainty whether the Nae Yaku have anything to do with 
sending luck in hunting, but if they are concerned in this they 
clearly play quite a subordinate part. When taking honey 
a little is left at the foot of the tree, this was said to be for the 
Nae Yaku, who may be called to it by some such expression as 
" here is honey, be pleased to eat ^" 

A female spirit Elle Yakini is invoked when a woman is 
pregnant, to protect mother and child ; beads which belong to 
the shaman, who seems to keep them for this purpose, are 
placed on a piece of cloth and invocations are spoken. After 
childbirth a bower apparently resembling the kolainadinva is 
made, Elle Yakini is invoked and an offering of food made 
to her. At the time of our visit it was said that a dance would 
shortly be held to Elle Yakini in thanks for having given a 
woman, who at first had difficulty in nursing her child, an 
abundant flow of milk. Elle Yakini will be invoked with an 
ordinary hunting arrow, and when possessed by her the shaman 
will gasp out some such formula as this " Now I have made you 
well, remember me in future." Offerings would not be made to 
Elle Yakini until her help was again needed. 


The most important spiritual agencies are the gods and 
demons who are worshipped at Kalukalaeba. Indigollae Yaka 
is said to give good luck to hunters, for neither Kande Yaka, 

1 The geographical position of Kahikalaeba allows the Veddas of this group no 
opportunity of collecting rock honey. 


Bilindi Yaka nor Bambura Yaka is known. The Nae Yaku 
are of the company of Indigollae Yaka, and with the latter are 
invoked after a death, but the Nae Yahi are not asked for good 
luck in hunting-. The Nae Yaku are invoked after every death ; 
coconut, jaggery (palm sugar), and rice are placed on a inaesa, 
offered to the yaku and afterwards eaten by the shaman and 
other members of the community. While invoking the spirits 
the shaman holds a cloth in his hands but no aude. 


The Kataragam God, Gane Deyo and Vihara Deyo, are 
worshipped, as probably are many others. These spirits are all 
considered more important than the Nae Yaku, and it is to their 
aid that success in hunting and in honey getting is largely 
attributed, nevertheless it was clear that the A^ae Yaku were 
thought of as helpful in these activities. Our informant stated 
that they had never heard of Kande Yaka, Bilindi Yaka, or 
Bambura Yaka, nor had they heard of the gods of the coast 
Veddas Kapalpe or Kadupe. 

The spirits of the dead become Nae Yaku, and it is customary 
for a ceremony to be held eight days after a death, at which the 
spirits of all the recent dead are invoked. It was said that these 
spirits of the deceased joined the other Nae Yaku without asking 
permission from any other spiritual being and that the Nae 
Yaku came when they were invoked unaccompanied by any 
other spirit. The shaman does not hold an aude in his hand 
when invoking the Nae Yaku, but some rice and cooked pumpkin 
are put upon a Diaesa before which he dances. At the side of 
this is a pot of rice covered with a cloth supported on a rice 
pounder. The shaman faces the east whilst dancing, and appeals 
to all remembered Nae Yaku by name. It was said to be rare 
for any but the shaman to become possessed. 

The Nae Yaku give honey and luck in hunting, and it is in 
order to obtain their favour that they are invoked, for if they 
were not they would give bad luck. When collecting tree honey 
the name of a dead man is called and he is requested to accept a 
little honey which is left at the foot of the tree for a short time, after 
which it is eaten by the honey gatherers. After killing game 


a piece of flesh is offered to the Nae Yaku who are called by 
name, and then the Veddas eat it themselves. 

Vihara Deyo is considered to send sickness, and he is invoked 
to make men whole again. Rice is cooked with milk usually 
obtained from the Tamil village of Horawila, and this with betel 
and areca nut is put upon a maesa. Only the shaman dances, 
and after the ceremony the offering is eaten by the whole com- 
munity, including the sick man. Our informant did not know 
how the yaka or deyo causing the sickness was discovered, that 
being left to the shaman. 


The important spiritual agencies are : — Gange Bandar 
Deyo, Genikandia Deyo, Palugamman Deyo, Vihara Deyo, 
Mangara Deyo. Our informants knew of IndigoUae Yaka 
but did not know if he ever was a man or had always been 
a spirit. Nothing was known of Kande Yaka, Bilindi Yaka, or 
Bambura Yaka, Dead shamans are thought to become yak?i, 
and it is the spirits of these people who are the Nae Yaku : the 
fate of the spirits of ordinary folk is uncertain, but they do not 
become A^ae Yaku. The Nae Yaku are danced to and invoked 
with the other yaku in order to cure sickness, but apparently 
they are not considered particularly important, A maesa is 
made and a cloth put over it, and on it are laid flowers of many 
kinds, betel leaves and areca nuts. Incense is burned before 
these offerings, in front of which the shaman dances facing the 
east. In some instances the maesa is built inside the temple, the 
shaman holds a cloth in his hand and a pot of rice cooked 
in milk is placed by the maesa on a rice pounder \ This is not 
tasted during the dance, but is eaten afterwards by the shaman 
and the sick man and other individuals of the community^. 

Kataragam Deyo is invoked especially to protect the chena, 
and at harvest an offering is made which is afterwards eaten as 
at Elakotaliya. 

^ It must be remembered that Yakure is a great cattle breeding centre. 

^ This is an interesting contrast to the practice which Mr Parker informs us prevails 
in the south of the island, where food given to spirits is not eaten at all but is exposed 
in the jungle or some deserted place. The fact that at Yakure food offered to spirits, 
many of whom are of Sinhalese or Tamil origin, is eaten, is clearly a remnant of the 
Vedda belief that the spirits invoked are in the main beneficent. 


Mangara Deyo is invoked to protect cattle. About a month 
before our visit a nephew of the shaman suffered from headache 
and fever and woke up in the middle of the night in a great 
state of alarm. It was ascertained by stone augury that Mangara 
Deyo had sent the sickness, offerings were made to him, and the 
youngster speedily recovered. 

There are no dances at a man's death or invocations to the 
spirits of the dead, nor did there appear to be any particular 
spirit who gave luck in hunting, indeed it seemed that game was 
little sought, the whole activity of the community being con- 
centrated on cattle breeding. 

The temple of Mangara Deyo is a small bare hut, with the 
roof projecting a few feet beyond that wall in which the door is 
cut. The inside of the temple is quite bare except for a narrow 
wooden rack about a foot wide which runs round the two side and 
back walls at a height of about four feet from the ground. In 
one corner of this was a pile of ande of all shapes and sizes which 
were said to belong to Mangara Deyo. 


Mr G. W. Jayawardene writes as follows concerning the 
beliefs of the Tamankaduwa "Veddas" described on p. 56, 
" They regard Adukganna Hulawali Yaka and Vedi Yaka 
as the important yakii. Adukganna Hulawali Yaka is the 
spirit to whom they look to be cured of sickness. When any 
one is ill he or she or someone on their behalf puts aside 
one or two cents which are wrapped in a clean piece of cloth 
and from each house an offering of food is made. Vedi Yaka is 
the spirit they look to for help in getting game. When an 
animal is killed the heart is taken and roasted and offered on 
a stick with the end split into four to hold the heart under 
a tree." Commenting on this Mr B. Horsburgh writes, "Aduk- 
ganna Hulawali Yaka is the spirit of a Vedda who was killed by 
King Mahasena for refusing to leave Minneriya tank when he 
was going to restore it. The name Adukganna Hulawaliyaka 
means Hulawali Yaka who takes the adukkiiwa or present of 
food (from the offering made to him). He is only seen in dreams, 

s. V. 12 


when he takes the shape of a well made young man dressed 
in white and with a white stick in his hand. Vedi Yaka also 
appears only in dreams, as a black man in a cloth with nothing 
else particular about him^" 

The Avoidance of Certain Foods. 

It must be assumed that the following prohibitions are of 
a religious or of a magico-religious nature, and for this reason 
they are included in the present chapter. They do not appear 
to be connected with totemism, yet we do not feel confident that 
they are derived from Hinduism, as is suggested by the Sarasins^ 
In this doubt we have the support of Mr Parker who writes: 
" This prohibition appears to have no connection with Hinduism, 
or the common Brown Monkey, Rilawd {Macacus pileatus), 
would be included, and also the Rat, as the vahana of Ganesa, 
and the Turtle as representative of Vishnu ; or some of these^" 

Bailey writes, " The Veddahs eat the flesh of elk, deer, 
monkeys, pigs, the iguana, and pengolin — all flesh indeed, but 
that of oxen, elephants, leopards, and jackals ; and all birds, 
except the wild or domestic fowl. They will not touch lizards, 
bats, or snakes, 

" They can assign no reason for their abstinence from the 
flesh of these beasts and birds which I have enumerated, but 
their objection to beef and fowls, though quite unexplained, 
is decidedly the most marked, so much so that during my 
inquiries I found that they spontaneously expressed their 
antipathy, though it required cross examination to elicit the 
fact that they also avoid the other kinds of fleshy" 

We are able to confirm Bailey's statement as far as it 
concerns the flesh of mammals, with the reservation that most 
Veddas do not eat porcupine. With regard to birds, the Veddas 
of Henebedda said they would not eat fowls or eagles. The 
majority of Veddas, including even the degenerate Veddas of 
the coast, avoid eating fowl, though many of the settled village 
Veddas keep them for sale or for the sake of their eggs, and in 

1 Both the passages quoted are from a report by Mr Horsburgh to the Colonial 

^ Op. cit. p. 415. ^ Ancient Ceylon, p. 191. 

* Op. cit. pp. 287 and 288. 


many places the flesh of the jungle cock is avoided as well as 
that of the domesticated bird. Many Veddas when questioned 
about fowl said, that though they did not eat it themselves 
other Veddas would, and some alleged that the reason for 
their abstinence was that fowls eat dirt. The lay members 
of the Sitala Wanniya community had no objection to 
eating fowl, though Handuna avoided it because he was a 

Further, those Veddas who eat fowl, avoid eating it when 
about to take part in a dance. When discussing this matter at 
Sitala Wanniya, Vela, who was not a shaman, was about to take 
part in the Dola Yaka ceremony described in Chapter IX, and 
it was then explained that this day he must avoid fowl, though 
at other times it would not matter if he were to eat it or not. 
The reason was not clear, while one man said that it was because 
ihe^'a^u did not like fowl, and so would not readily enter him after 
he had eaten it, another said that should a man become possessed 
after eating fowl it might be difficult to regain consciousness. It 
is equally necessary for shamans to avoid eating pig, though the 
reason for this was more definitely stated, namely, that the j/aku 
disliked this animal. 

Although shamans will not eat pig, they have no scruples 
with regard to killing it, but they must not touch it or cut it up. 
If they were to neglect this observance they would be ill and 
shiver for four or five days afterwards, even when seated comfort- 
ably in the cave. The arrow with which a pig had been killed 
must be cleaned by a man who is not a shaman, and may then 
be used again by the shaman. The shaman of the sophisticated 
Veddas said that he would eat only rice, coconut milk, salt, 
bananas and cow's milk for some days before invoking the 
yakii, and this man insisted on having a daily ration of rice for 
several days before the Nae Yaku ceremony held after the death 
of Tuta. But as all these foods are foreign to the wilder Veddas 
and must be obtained by trade, these abstinences have assuredly 
been introduced, and certainly no custom of this sort is observed 
at Sitala Wanniya or even at Henebedda. 

The suggestion that these prohibitions have been taken over 
from Hinduism will not explain the equally strong objection to 

12 — 2 


fowls of the majority of Veddas, or the abstinence from the flesh 
of fowls of the shaman in communities, the lay members of which 
eat fowl except before dancing. Nor does it explain the similar 
abstinence from pig which Mr Parker suggests may be due to 
the unclean nature of its food, for it is "an eater of dead bodies 
which might be those of human beings^" Further, the abstinence 
from the flesh of elephants, leopards and bears is hardly to be 
explained as due to foreign influence; we believe that these 
animals are not eaten because they are, and always have been, 
difficult to hunt by a people as poorly armed as the Veddas, 
who were not driven to attempt to kill them on account of the 
scarcity of game. There was in fact no necessity to attempt to 
kill them, for deer were easier to hunt and more pleasant to eat ; 
so the Veddas gave them a wide berth and their flesh was not 
regarded as food, and if come by accidentally, as when a dead 
elephant was found in the jungle, its flesh was not eaten because 
it was new and strange-. 

In the same way the flesh of buffalo was not eaten, for 
buffalo are perhaps the most dangerous of all Indian animals to 
hunt, and as for the flesh of the domestic cattle, it is obvious 
that no Veddas except those who kept cattle or were village 
Veddas could have had the chance of eating this meat. Once 
this stage of sophistication had been reached, abstinence from the 
flesh of cattle might easily be dictated by contact with Hinduism, 
but hardly before. It is of course questionable how far the 
avoidance of strange food because it is strange and has not been 
eaten before in the community is a matter of religion, but we have 
thought it best to discuss the matter in this place because of the 
view which connects these observances with Hinduism. 


Since our return to England we have received from Mr Parker 
important information concerning the popular beliefs of the 
Kandyan Sinhalese of the North Western Province. This in- 
formation bears in a most interesting manner upon the beliefs 

^ Ancient Ceylon^ p. 191. 

^ At Bandaraduwa we were told that once, two or three generations ago, a dead 
elephant was found in the jungle but its flesh was not eaten. 


which we have classified as belonging to the second and third 
strata of the Vedda religion. We therefore propose to give a 
short account of these Sinhalese beliefs, but before doing this 
we may indicate that in our opinion the Kandyan Sinhalese 
must not be considered the pure or nearly pure descendants of 
invaders from the Ganges. On the contrary, we believe with 
Mr Parker that everywhere throughout the old Vedirata and in 
the hills west of the Mahaweliganga the present day Sinhalese 
possess a varying and sometimes large amount of Vedda blood. 
It is therefore only natural that the beliefs of these peasants 
should present a mixture of the beliefs of the aborigines and of 
the races which came later into the island. The actual workinsf 
beliefs of the Sinhalese are exceedingly complicated ; there is 
first the belief in a number of High Gods of whom Skanda — the 
Kataragam God — appeared to us to be the most important ^ 
Then comes the ever-present fear of a countless number of 
demons who are responsible for misfortune and disaster, who 
must be constantly propitiated. The worship of these has given 
rise to a prodigiously elaborate system of demonology compli- 
cated by endless local variations and beliefs, intermixed with 
which there exists the Bandar cult of the Dead already referred 
to in Chapter VI. A reverence for Buddha which, as far as 
we could judge, is stronger in the large towns than in the jungle 
villages loosely holds together this mass of beliefs which the 
people call Buddhism-. It seems obvious that the Bandar cult 
represents the remains of the primitive Cult of the Dead which 
appears to have been the religion of the early non-Aryan in- 
habitants of the whole of Southern India. 

This view has the support of Mr Parker, who writes, " The 

' Mr Parker writes, "The most important of the Hindu Gods in the opinion of the 
Kandian Sinhalese is Vishnu, termed by them Ma Vis Unnanse. I rather think that 
Ganesa, termed Gana Deviya, should be placed next, the statues of these two, only 
being found in the wiharas. 

" The name of Skanda, Kataragama Deviya, is perhaps oftenest on their lips; but 
on the whole he does not appear to hold quite as important a position with the 
villagers as Ayiyanar, the son of Mohini. Both are powerful Forest Gods." 

^ The orthodox Sinhalese Buddhists separate their beliefs in the Indian Gods and 
in demons from Buddhism. Mr Parker points out that " even the erection of the 
statues of Vishnu and Ganesa in the wiharas is of comparatively recent date, and is 
not altogether approved of by the monks." 


Sinhalese demonology is very interesting There are many 

classes of Yaku ; but I believe that this Bandara worship is the 
only indigenous portion of it. I have traced practically all the 
other demons to Southern India, although the Kapuralas claim 
that a few others, in addition to the Bandaras, are of local origin. 
They themselves admit that all the rest are imported from 

Among these immigrant spiritual beings is one, the Gale 
Deviyo, who appears to be originally identical with the Gale Yaka 
of the village Veddas and the Indigollae Yaka of other groups. 
Mr Parker states that the Gale Deviyo is popularly supposed 
to have come from India with his Prime Minister Kurumbuda ; 
he is worshipped in Uva, the North Central and North Western 
Provinces. " He is a beneficent God, who gives food and rain 
and guards the crops and prevents or checks epidemics." Two 
miles from the temple at Nirammulla are two caves, and in one 
of these Kurumbuda killed sixty priests who were there assembled, 
in order to take possession of the cave himself. Gale Deviyo is 
danced to annually in July or August on the summit of crags. 
The dancer, called anmtiaetirala (i.e. one subject to command) 
represents the god ; in the temple he assumes a three-tiered hat 
and holds a golden katty {ran kaettd), and the spirit of the god 
enters him without any of the usual phenomena of possession. 
The man who made the katty (or one of his descendants) and the 
dhobie who washed his clothes accompany the dancer to the 
foot of the crag which he ascends alone. The hat, katty, and 
flounces which the dancer wears are kept in the temple. 

" In the North Central Province the chief temple of the God 
is at Indigollaewa, on the southern side of Kalawaewa, The 
'dancing rock' {natana gala) near it is called Andiyagala. In 
the North Western Province his chief temple is at Nirammulla, 
15 miles N.E. of Kurunegala ; and its two 'dancing rocks' are 
on Devagiriya ' the Hill of the God,' where his original temple 
was established in a cave which he took by force from the monks 
killed by Kurumbuda." 

Mr Parker points out that it is quite certain that the Gale 
Deviyo is identical with the Gale Yaka of some at least of the 
village Veddas, for " there is the same service to him everywhere. 


and the same tradition of his coming from Malawara-desa, our 
Maleiyalam, accompanied by his minister Kurumbuda, called 
a Yaka, but also by the Kandians a Devata or Godling. 

" I got the same account of him from the Tamil-speaking 
Vaeddas, the Vaeddas of Maha Oya district, the forests south of 
it, Maduru Oya district, and the extreme south of the Batticaloa 
district, and the Sinhalese of Uva, North Central Province and 
North Western Province. He is worshipped in all these three 
Sinhalese districts. There can be no doubt as to his being 
a God of the Village Vaeddas..., All in these districts appeal to 

him in cases of epidemics The Tamil-speaking Veddas told 

me that although called yaka he is really their God of all, who 
taught them everything they know and the names of things 
and animals, and instructed them regarding their dances. 

" The Tamil-speaking Vaeddas address him as ' Lord God/ 
' Lord of the Country,' ' Hill Lord ' (Maleiya Swami). 

" The Tamil-speaking Vaeddas give me the very same account 
of the arrival of the Gale Yaka and the Gale Deviyo as those of 
Bintenne and the Sinhalese of the Noith Western Province. 
They all agree that he came from Malawara-desa — the Malayalam 
country — with one minister, and the only point where they do 
not agree is as to the place where he landed. Some say Kokka- 
gala, others Valeichena on the coast, and the Sinhalese say he 
came to some hills in their part." 

Mr Parker states that the Sinhalese all call Gale Deviyo the 
god of the Veddas, and the village Veddas told him that a 
ceremony similar to that described in the North Central Province 
is performed on Omungala and Kokkagala in the Bintenne. 
There are temples to him throughout all the village Vedda 
districts "just like their own huts that might be passed without 
notice unless specially informed what they are." Where there 
is no rocky crag on which to dance, the ceremony is performed 
beneath a tree, and this occurs among the coast Veddas. 
Mr Parker points out that Gale Deviyo must not be confused with 
Gale Bandar who came with four or five followers in a stone 
boat from India and landed near Galle. 

To sum up, Mr Parker's observations show that the Gale 
Deviyo of the Sinhalese of the North Central Province is regarded 


as an immigrant God from beyond the ocean. Mr Parker 
states that he is also the most important God of the coast 
Veddas, and this is supported by our observation that the coast 
Veddas call their most important God Kappalpei, " Ship Spirit" 
(Mr Parker suggests " ship demon "), and say that he came from 
over seas. It is therefore clear that among Sinhalese and coast 
Veddas a foreign spiritual agency is considered the most 
important of the Gods and temples are raised to him. This 
God is danced to on certain crags by the Sinhalese, and similar 
rites occur among some of the sophisticated Veddas of the 
Bintenne who also say that the spiritual agency Gale Yaka 
whom they invoke in this ceremony is a foreigner. 

In many communities of Veddas, far less sophisticated than 
the village Veddas, we were told about spirits who inhabited 
rock-masses or hills such as Walimbagala, but these did not at 
all correspond to the Gale Deviyo of Mr Parker. It was perfectly 
clear that to the majority of Veddas they really were simply 
local unnamed yakti, who were spoken of by the name of the 
peak or rock supposed to be their favourite haunt, and in only 
one advanced community were these spirits bearing hill names 
considered to be immigrants from India'. We therefore consider 
that the Gale Yaka of the village Veddas has been adopted 
from the Sinhalese by the more advanced communities of Veddas 
where alone he is known, and that although the foreign rite of 
dancing to him on crags is still retained, he has to some extent 
taken on Vedda characters as witnessed by his invocation at 
the ahUyakagavia ceremony described in Chapter IX. 

The temple of the Gale Deviyo at Indigollaewa in the North 
Central Province has already been mentioned. His wife the 
Kiriamma is worshipped here with him, and God and Goddess 
are sometimes spoken of as Indigollaewa Devia and Indigollaewa 
Kiriamma. Concerning him Mr Parker writes, " I collected 
accounts of him in all parts, and about Indigollaewa in the North 
Central Province where his temple is, and they all agree that he 
is the Gale Yaka, while the Sinhalese of Indigollaewa know him 

^ Cf. Chapter IX, in which is described the ruwala c-jremony by which these 
spirits are propitiated. 


only as the Gale Deviyo." "The Sinhalese of Indigollaewa and 
some of the settled Vaeddas near Maha Oya make offerings to 
the Gale Yaka and the Kiriamma, as his wife, together ; no 
offerings, however, are made to her on the hill tops, which are 
reserved for the Gale Yaka.... She is a great food provider for 
the Vaeddas. Some call her Indigollae Kiriamma ; others 
Kukulapola Kiriamma ; but both names referred to the same 
person, they said." 

At Unuwatura Bubula, where there is a small settlement of 
Veddas, we saw Gale Yaka invoked (see ahityakagamd) in a 
dance in which the Nae Yaku and Rahu Yaku were also 
invoked. At the same dance a female spirit came, about whom 
there was some confusion, she may have been one of the Nae 
Yakini, or she may have been the Kiriamma who was certainly 
known. Unfortunately the Kapurale who performed this dance 
became ill after it and so was unable to discuss the matter with 
us. Certainly Gale Yaka, Indigollae Yaka and Kande Yaka 
were all known by name, but there seemed much confusion 
between them all, perhaps Gale Yaka had become lord of the 
dead and so usurped the place of Kande Yaka, as he was invoked 
before the Nae Yaku in the same ceremony. Kande Yaka and 
Bilindi Yaka were invoked at a separate dance (see p. 229, 
btdatyahana). No hint was given us that Gale Yaka and 
Indigollae Yaka might be names for the same spirit, but of course 
this may have been so. The information that Indigollae Yaka 
was extremely powerful both for good and evil and for successful 
hunting, was volunteered, and some especially v^aluable beads 
were kept to offer him. 

At Sitala Wanniya we heard of Indigollae Yaka. The invo- 
cation given in Chapter X (No. XXlll) clearly shows that he is of 
foreign origin, and we were told that Riri Yaka was another name 
for the same spirit. Now Riri Yaka is the Sinhalese and Tamil 
blood-devil, a demon with particularly well marked characteristics 
and considered extremely dangerous. There is thus no doubt 
that at Indigollaewa the "God of Indigollaewa" is the Gale 
Deviyo, and he retains this character among the village Veddas, 
but among the wilder Veddas he acquires Vedda characteristics, 
becomes an attendant on Kande Yaka, and as a foreigner may 


be confused with other adopted and therefore Httle known 

The position of the Indigollaewa Kiriamma and her relation 
to the Kiriamma of the Veddas is comparatively simple. Among 
the wilder Veddas there are certain female spirits, ^cyaku of old 
women called kiriamma (lit. grandmothers) who were especially 
fond of children, and would occasionally steal them. They 
sometimes caused sickness. Most of these live on rocks, and at 
Sitala Wanniya we were told that the Maha Kiriamma was 
the chief of these and the Maha Yakini were her attendants. 
All \\iQst. yakino vv^ere said to be the wives of Veddas who lived 
long ago and in no case was the Kiriamma ever mentioned as 
the wife of the Gale Yaka or of Indigollae Yaka. At Unuvvatura 
Bubula a Gale Yakini was mentioned, and this may have been 
the female spirit who was invoked after Gale Yaka, and in that 
case it seems reasonable to suppose that she was the original 
Maha Kiriamma or Maha Yakini of the Veddas, who has become 
confused with the foreign Kiriamma (identified by Mr Parker 
with Mohini in Ceylon), the wife of the foreign Gale Deviyo, 
who probably was introduced through the Sinhalese to the 
village Veddas at a very early date ^ 

Although she does not appear to have passed from the 
village Veddas to the wilder Veddas, her consort has been 
carried on as Indigollae Yaka. Further, although when investi- 
gating the beliefs of the less sophisticated Veddas we knew 
nothing of the foreign Gale Yaka and the Indigollae Kiriamma, 
we feel confident, from much information volunteered to us, that 
Indigollae Yaka was an attendant spirit, and there was no con- 
nection in the minds of the Veddas between him and their own 
kiriamma who were the wives of long dead Veddas. 

Even among the Sinhalese the relationship between the Gale 
Deviyo and the Maha Kiriamma varies in a manner that suggests 
that the connection between the two is late. Mr Parker writes, 
" The Kandians of the North West Province know of no wife 
of the God of the Rock, and I believe that they alone have pre- 
served the correct tradition in this respect... for it is everywhere 

^ Reference is made on p. 188 to Mr Parker's view that Gale Deviyo is the original 
supreme god of the Veddas. 


agreed that when the Gale Yaka came to Ceylon he was accom- 
panied only by Kurumbuda. No doubt she had been taken 
over from the Tamils, through the Sinhalese of the North 
Central Province, to provide a suitable wife for the Gale Yaka. 
Probably she is the one called the Alut Devi, the New 

There is another matter to which we may refer, namely, 
a suggested relationship of Kande Yaka to Kanda Swami the 
Kataragam God. This is a matter to which we paid much 
attention in the field. The circumstances which at first suggest 
the identity appear to be the similarity in name, and the fact 
that " Kandaswami's brother... an important deity in the Hindu 
temples is commonly called Pillaiar or 'the child.'" Further, 
it has been suggested that because " Kandaswami's favourite 
weapon is the vel or lance," therefore it is " most probably the 
original of the" ceremonial arrow "which plays so large a part 
in Vedda ceremonies." The passages between quotation marks 
are by Mr P. Arunachalam and are quoted because he has put 
the case for the identity of Kande Yaka and the Kataragam 
God more strongly than anyone else \ 

Remembering that the Veddas are bowmen and that until 
a few generations ago all genuine Veddas were dependent for 
their livelihood on the bow, the last argument seems to us of 
little force. 

We have already (in Chapter vil) made mention of the 
celebrated temple at Kataragam and of the extent of its influence 
among the Veddas-. At Bandaraduwa and other places where 
the temple at Kataragam is known by repute, and at Henebedda 
in the Nilgala district, the god is called the " Kataragam God " 
and not Kanda Swami {swami " lord "). At these places Kande 

1 We quote from the report in the Ceylon Observa- (May 26th, 1908) of 
Mr Arunachalam's remarks in a discussion on a paper read by one of us before the 
Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. 

2 Cf. Bailey [op. cit. pp. 304—305), "The far-famed Hindu Temple of Kataragam 
which attracts thousands of pilgrims annually from India and is regarded with awe by 
the Sinhalese is dedicated to Skanda...of the existence of Skanda or of Kataragam the 
Veddas are profoundly ignorant."' Bailey spoke of the Nilgala Veddas who at the 
time he wrote must have been in much the same condition as the Sitala Wanniya 
community is to-day. 


Yaka is also known, he is always looked upon as a Vedda hero 
famous for his prowess in killing sambur, he is regarded as 
a powerful but benevolent spirit who never causes sickness, and 
who, when invoked and given certain offerings of food, grants 
luck in hunting. The Kataragam God on the other hand is 
everywhere held in awe, and acknowledged to be the most 
fearful of all gods. 

Although we do not consider Kande Yaka and Skanda 
identical we are inclined to agree with Mr Parker that " the two 
may have been confounded by the Gangetic settlers, Skanda 
being also known as Kanda Kumara, and being a Hill-god." 
Any such confusion would be bound to react on the beliefs of 
the village Veddas or of those communities which later gave 
rise to the village Veddas. Mr Parker continues, " In Ancient 
Ceylon I have pointed out that Kataragama was an important 
station in the third century B.C., and suggested that the first 
settlers who landed near Kirinde... may have concluded from the 
similarity of names that he and Skanda were the same deity." 

Since the above was written Mr Parker has been so good as 
to send us for perusal a part of the proof sheets of his work 
Ancient Ceylon. We may perhaps be allowed to comment on 
his main thesis that the Gale Yaka or Gale Deviyo is the god of 
the earliest inhabitants of Ceylon, and therefore of the Veddas. 

In the first place Mr Parker's information concerning the 
Gale Deviyo was obtained from village Veddas, and the Tamil- 
speaking Veddas whom we call coast Veddas. He also states 
that the cult of this God is widely spread among Sinhalese 
villagers of the North Central and North Western Provinces. 

We have noted that we found no trace of the Gale Yaka 
among the wilder Veddas, although allowed to participate in 
their ceremonies. However^ we heard of Indigollae Yaka as an 
attendant on Kande Yaka, and although it may be that among 
the peasant Sinhalese and village Veddas these names are 
synonymous, this is certainly not the case among the less sophisti- 
cated Veddas. Again, Mr Parker states that the emblem of the 
God is the Ran-kaetta the "Golden Bill-hook" {^Ancient Ceylon, 
p. 189). This cannot be regarded as a ^'edda emblem, for 
the bill-hook is unknown to the Veddas, who are essentially 


bowmen, and among whom the arrow in its ordinary or cere- 
monial form is associated with the invocation of their dead and 
the other j/aku whom they worship. 

It therefore seems reasonable to suppose that the Gale Yaka 
is an immigrant god introduced by the Sinhalese to the village 
Veddas. The fact that politically organized Veddas are men- 
tioned in the Mahavansa as possessing a temple dedicated to 
the Vyadha Deva^ — the Vedda God — in the great city of Anurad- 
hapura in the fourth century B.C. does not seem to us to bear 
upon the condition of the wilder Veddas, nor do we follow 
Mr Parker's identification of this God with the Gale Yaka. All 
the facts adduced by Mr Parker seem to us to be most readily 
explained by the interaction of Sinhalese and village Veddas as 
indicated in Chapter I. 

^ Mahavansa, Chapter x, p. 43 (Tournour's translation). 



In the chapters upon religion we have described those 
ceremonies and observances of the Veddas which depend for 
their efficacy upon the successful appeal to some extra-human 
personal influence. In this section we shall discuss a number of 
actions which we consider magical, that is, actions which are 
expected to produce the required result automatically by virtue 
of their own intrinsic qualities. 

One of the first things we noted during our stay in the 
Vedda country was the very slight part which magic played in 
the life of the Veddas. The more we saw of the people the 
more convinced we became of this. It seems to us that among 
the uncontaminated Veddas of two or three generations ago 
magical practices were almost entirely absent, and even at the 
present day the few remaining Veddas who have not been much 
exposed to foreign influence have scarcely any customs that are 
truly magical. 

We include in this chapter the custom which formerly 
existed of eating a small piece of human liver in times of 
great stress, for even if this custom be not considered magical in 
the strict sense, it is clearly based on principles which lie at the 
root of many magical beliefs. 

Since it is important to make thoroughly clear the absence 
of many forms of magic, we shall consider the condition of the 
different communities with regard to some of the most commonly 
occurring forms. 

Magic directed against the Individual. 

This is completely absent except among the village Veddas, 
which is all the more surprising in view of the extraordinary 

MAGIC 191 

prevalence among the Sinhalese of magic having for its object 
the production of disease and death. Even the Henebedda 
Veddas, who have adopted a number of Sinhalese charms 
against animals, do not believe in this form of magic. The 
presence of a woman with wasting of both legs and contracture, 
the result of a long-standing ulcerative process of obscure origin 
which developed spontaneously, enabled this to be tested. 

Although we discussed this woman's condition with a number 
of Veddas it was only once suggested, and then very doubtfully, 
that it might have been due to Sinhalese himiyam magic\ and 
it was clear that to the community generally this woman's 
disease was simply an accident, the origin of which they did not 
understand and did not trouble about. 

Though Veddas, and especially Vedda women, are extremely 
shy there is no belief in the evil eye, or in the danger of being 
" overlooked." 

Charms protective against Animals. 

The bear is the only animal that the Veddas really fear, and 
there is no doubt that a number of Veddas and jungle-dwelling 
Sinhalese are mauled each year, indeed, at least one man in 
each community that we visited bore the marks of the bear's 
paws. Bear's flesh~is not eaten and we doubt if Veddas ever 
voluntarily attack a bear, though there is no doubt that they 
sometimes kill one that has attacked them. Hence, the bear is 
called the " enemy " and his name is seldom mentioned nor is he 
represented among the rock paintings at Pihilegodagalge 
although the leopard, who steals the Vedda dogs and is hated 
in consequence, is represented. When questioned on the subject 
our male informants said nothing, but a number of women 
looked surprised and one said quite decidedly that no one would 
paint a bear. The words used in speaking of the bear are of 

1 That the huniyam idea was foreign to the one Vedda who suggested it, was 
proved by the results of further questioning, when our informant gave an outhne 
of one of the commonest Sinhalese beliefs as to the method of preparation and action 
of huniyam charms. The reference to huniyam in one of the "Vedda charms" 
published by Mr De Zoysa (Journal Ceylon Branch R. A. S., Vol. vii, 1881, p. 103), 
cannot be taken to invalidate our conclusions, for many of these charms show 
undoubted Sinhalese influence. 


interest from this standpoint. We believe that in most Vedda 
communities walaJia the ordinary word for bear is seldom or 
never used^ certainly this was the case at Sitala Wanniya where 
the word ordinarily used for bear was keria. This word was 
not considered a dangerous word to use when all bears were at 
a distance, but when there was any possibility of coming in 
contact with a bear the animal was spoken of as hatera, the 
meaning of this word being "enemy" or "adversary." On one 
occasion when with Handuna of Sitala Wanniya we came to 
a hill covered with irregularly weathered rocks and known to be 
the haunt of bears, Handuna shouted hatera yanda ("enemy 
begone") before taking an abrupt turn in the track which here 
skirted a mass of rock. He repeated this sentence two or three 
times in a loud voice and assured us that we could now proceed 
without running the least risk of meeting a bear, and he himself 
led us round the rock with every appearance of careless ease, 
explaining that even if bears were about they would have heard 
what he had said and would have moved away. Two of the 
Henebedda Veddas exhibited the same appearance of careless- 
ness when guiding us to a rock-shelter which though sometimes 
used by Veddas had not been tenanted for some time and bore 
obvious signs of being the lair of a bear. Sita Wanniya, our 
guide, explained his attitude by his belief in the power of the 
charms with which he was confident he could put any bear to 

These charms were recited in a loud voice, in fact the last 
words were almost shrieked and would doubtless have turned 
any bear, for it is a well known fact that the Sinhalese bear 
fears man and only attacks when surprised or cornered. This 
is shown by the circumstances in which the majority of accidents 
with bears occur. A man coming silently along a narrow jungle 
track suddenly meets a bear, or disturbs one grubbing behind a 
white ant heap. It is then that the bear, as much frightened as 
the man, charges inflicting severe though seldom, fatal injuries. 

1 We met with one obvious exception to this rule, the Henebedda youths Sita 
Wanniya and Poromala used the word walaha quite freely even in the jungle, and old 
Poromala, half of whose face was torn away by a bear some years ago, has been 
nicknamed Walaha, the Bear. This name was, however, given him by the Sinhalese. 

MAGIC 193 

Bailey's remarks on these charms, which unfortunately he does 
not quote, are extremely pertinent. " I shall never forget the 
first time one of these Vedda charms was recited for my 
edification. It was midnight ; I was in the heart of a dense 
and gloomy forest, twenty miles from any habitation.... 
I was chatting to an intelligent Vedda at my side and then 
learnt for the first time, that they had charms....! begged 
him to recite one — and, in an instant, the forest re-echoed with 
such unearthly yells, that I felt he would be a bold bear indeed, 
whose heart did not die within him, and whose legs did not 
carry him far out of hearing of the repeated and discordant 
' behegang ! wirooowee ! wiroowah ! ' which formed the burden 
of the charm. Of its perfect efficacy, my friend had no doubt ; 
nor indeed had I, but he was rather huffed when I suggested 
that the mere noise may have had something to do with its 

A youth, Kaira of Bingoda, wore a number of bone beads 
on his waist string. He refused to sell these or exchange them 
for other beads or cloth, and though obviously not desirous of 
discussing them, stated that he had made them by grinding 
down the bones of a bear which he had found in the jungle. 
Although the remains of animals are not commonly found we 
did ourselves find the remains of one bear which we identified 
with certainty by the skull which was tolerably well preserved. 
The wearing of these beads as a matter of personal feeling by a 
single Vedda, if not exactly an example of magic, seems to us 
to be an example of the mode of thought from which magical 
practices spring and perhaps an example of an early experiment 
in magic, which under favourable circumstances might give rise 
to an amulet of bear's bone. 

The Veddas of Sitala Wanniya have no charms against 
bears or other animals and the only charms directed towards 
this end that we could discover were a number obviously of 
Sinhalese origin which we collected at Henebedda. Probably 
these are not of very recent introduction, for we obtained some 
of them from old Poromala, nicknamed Walaha. Poromala 
is one of the oldest men of the community and is its leader as 

1 op. cit. p. 289. 

s. V. 13 


far as a leader can be said to exist, and he told us that he had 
learnt these invocations as a boy. 

We regret that the names of our informants were not noted 
in every case in the following charms, but we give them where 
possible. The transliterations and translations of these charms 
as well as the comments on them are by Mr Parker who points 
out that the word On occurring in a number of them is the 
Indian Otn'^. 

The first two charms are directed against bears. 

Arini kurini, naga paid ge ja hure, jah. 

Venerable one of noble family (?). O Lord, born in a house in a rock- 
hole. Be off! 

Mr Parker writes, " I do not know the meaning of the first 
two words of the spell, arini kiirini. Probably arini is derived 
from drya and the honorific ending ;//, meaning ' the venerable 
one.' In that case the second word may be kiilina, ' of noble 
family,' and the whole translation would be as given. Patd for 
pataJia, a hole, hollow or pool." 

This charm was given us by Poromala of Bingoda who said 
he had known it a long time. Its meaning could not be 
ascertained in the field. The next charm was obtained from 
Tissahami, the Vedda Arachi, who said it had been used in his 
youth by the Kovil Vanamai Veddas. 

On Dahasak Budunne kunu goden upan Nila Kandige bade ttpan 
JVildda Ntltda, nil, po add, 7nl, po adi, poh. 

On/ Born in the womb of Nlla (the blue-black) Kandl, born from the 
Jieap of filth of a thousand Buddhas (or sages), whether (you are) Nlla or 
Nlll (the blue-black one, m. or f.). Stop ! Go thou (m.) ! Stop ! Go thou 
(f.). Be off ! 

The first part is ordinary Sinhalese ; the orders to go are in 

1 "This word begins nearly all invocations, and it is stated in the Vishnu Piirana 
(Wilson, p. ■273) that 'The syllable Otn is defined to be the eternal monosyllabic 
Brahma.' On p. 274 Wilson adds (f. n.) 'The daily prayers of the Brahman commence 
with the formula Om bhiiii, biiiivali, swar; Om, earth, sky, heaven.' 

"In the Sacr-cd Laws of tlie Aiyas (Buhler), i. 4, 6 (Aphorisms of Apastamba) it is 
said ' The syllable " Om " is the door of heaven.' At i. 4, 8 also ' And in common life, 
at the occasion of ceremonies perfoniied for the sake of welfare, the sentences shall be 
headed by this word, as, for instance, " ((9w) an auspicious day! " " (Om) welfare." " 

MAGIC 195 

Mr Parker writes, " This looks like a very modern spell. 
The speaker treats the bear contemptuously ; but I cannot 
explain the reference to the sages. He wishes the bear to 
understand the very inferior position he occupies, in his 

The next charm applies to the elephant. 

On! Aeri sinna ivayird naeri sinna suwdgayd, natno. St. 

On ! Excited (or strong) elephant, angry one, stout elephant. Saluta- 
tion ! homage ! Be ofif ! 

We could obtain no satisfactory translation of this charm. 
Mr Parker writes, " The difficult words in this spell are aeri 
and naeri. Such spells as these almost always commence 
by applying honourable epithets to the animals, and there- 
fore a probable derivation of the former word is from airya 
(Skt root zr), with the meaning ' excited,' ' aroused,' or from 
iraya ' strong.' 

" Naeri is perhaps derived from neriyanawd, to grow stout 
or obese, although the change from e to ae is unusual. The 
translation would then be as above. 

" Sinna, for sringa, a horn ; compare sringin, an elephant, 
derived from the same word. 

" Wayirawd. This was translated in Ceylon as Bhairava, but 
the Sinhalese form for this deity is Bahirawa, and I prefer the 
meaning given above, from the Tamil vayiram, angry, and 
avan, he. 

" Snwdgayd appears literally to mean ' may you go to 
heaven,' szuarga ; but compare swdgata ' salutation ' from sinua 
and agata." 

Mr De Zoysa gives the following charm as a protection 
against elephants but he does not give its origin. 

Ichchata vallay 
Pachchaia vallay 
Dela devallay 
Situ appa situ. 

A hanging member in front (trunk) 

A hanging member behind (tail) 

On two sides two hanging members (the two ears) 

Stay, beast, stay ! 



The next two charms were given by Tissahami the Vedda 
Arachi as protections against the leopard and the buffalo 
respectively. They were said to be in use at Bandaraduwa but 
owing to an oversight this statement was not verified. 

OnJ Sinhan Sivattha vedippiilaya ttam ata kata am. Si. 

On I O Lion, for the sake of Siva, if you are one who has escaped from 
shooting, may (your) foot and mouth be appeased. Be off ! 

The words of this charm are chiefly Tamil. 

Sivattha from Siva and atthain, on account of. 

Vedippiilaya for Vedippileiydr (honorific) from Vedi " a shot," 
and pilei to escape from a danger. 

Am, V. dru, "to cool," "be appeased," "repose." 

Si for isi, an expression used in driving away cats. 

Mr Parker points out that " remembrance of the danger from 
which he himself escaped is expected to cause the leopard to 
sympathise with and to spare the man." 

On. Nd Waeraellige pitta Rana Devatdwd Andungri paruivate waeda 
indagena Kalugal rusiydtayi to anne mata no weyi. Howu dda howu. 

On. Rana Devata, son of Naga-Waeraelli (f.), thou shalt strike the 
Kalugal (Black-rock) Ascetic who sits on the Andun-giri (Black-hill) 
mountain ; not me. Be off, be off ! 

Mr Parker does not know anything about the Rana Devata 
(Godling of Fighting) or his mother, or the Ascetic, but the 
charm suggests to him that the Devata is believed to inspire 
the buffalo to attack men. 

Bailey gives the following charm against an animal called 
okma which he says is the wild boar, though Mr Parker considers 
that the okma is the buffalo and this view is also taken by 
Mr De Zoysa. We are inclined to agree with them and there- 
fore quote this charm here. 

Iri deyyanne dktna 
Sanda deyyanne okma 
Pase Budunne okma 
Situ okma situ 

Okma of the Sun-god I 
Okma of the Moon-god ! 
Okma of the Pase Budu ! 
Stay, Okma, stay ! 

MAGIC 197 

The great interest of this spell is that Bailey obtained it 
from the Nilgala Veddas over fifty years ago, and that he was 
able to trace the Sinhalese charm against toothache — from 
which it was derived. 

Ira deyene ceyd ! 

Sanda deyefie ceya ! 

Passe Budutte ceyd ! 

Date nositoo dat ceyd! 

Worm of the sun-god ! 

Worm of the moon-god ! 

Worm of the Passe Buddha ! 

Stay not in the tooth, thou tooth-worm. 

Bailey recognised the importance of this discovery, for he 
wrote, " These are identical ; yet the Veddahs and the Sinhalese 
certainly do not associate so closely as to borrow one another's 
charms... .The term okma I can get no satisfactory ex- 
planation of It is not Sinhalese, certainly I assume it means 
' wild boar,' and this is the charm to arrest a boar in the path ; 
but it is not the term used by the Veddahs for a boar in ordinary 
conversation. The allusion to the Base, or Bache Buddha, is 
curious as occurring in both... .The other Veddah charms 
are, I believe, quite unlike those of the Sinhalese, but on that 
point I am still making enquiries... ^" 

The next two charms are against snakes and were obtained 
from Boromala (Walaha) of Henebedda and Boromala of 

It is necessary for the efficacy of the first of these charms 
that a string of human hair be bound round the limb above the 
bite. The hand of the operator is then carried down the limb 
repeatedly as he mutters the charm, the thumb nail being flicked 
against the ground each time the hand has passed down the 
legl This is to drive the poison into the ground. The string 
of hair is not the purposeful beginning of rational treatment ; 
we believe that it was not considered necessary to tie the hair 

^ Op. cit. p. 304. 

There can be little doubt that this and similar charms crept into the beliefs of the 
wilder Veddas at the same time and in the same way as the yaku of village Veddas, 
e.g. Unapane Kiriamma, became known to the wilder Veddas. 

- Snake bites in the jungle are invariably on the leg. 


String at all tightly and our informants were perfectly certain 
that the benefit derived from this treatment (which Poromala 
assured us he had seen succeed more than once) was due to the 
virtue of the hair of the head w^iich might equally well be that 
of the snake's victim, or of any one else. 

Nanid. Nayin gini kelemi, polangun daratia kalani, karaivalu malu 
kalemi, pansiyak sarpayin in aes gaesi, is gaesi, dala gaesil, luisa baesi 
maha polowata deswdha. 

Salutation ! I set fire to cobras, I coil up (or split up) polongas {Daboia 
russelli), I make curry of karawilas {Bungarus sp.). From five hundred 
snakes the eyes are knocked out, the heads are beaten, the teeth are knocked 
out, and the poison is sent down to the earth. Eswaha ! 

'' Namo is a Pali expression, borrowed from Buddhist 
works etc. in which it takes the place occupied by oni in India. 
It is derived from the Skt. root nam, to bend, bow etc. 

" Malu is the colloquial word for curry ; also for meat, but the 
latter word is not suitable here. The Sinhalese never say 
'I made meat of anything. 

'' D eswaha from da, the conjunction 'and' in combination 
with csiuaha. The last two words of the charm should be 
polozvatada eswaha." 

Ahasata guru kawitda guru ? Aha(sa) la guru ira sanda 
de guru.. 

Polawata guru kawuda guru? Polawata guru Mihikat 


Nayiiida guru katvuda guru ? Nayida guru Ndga guru. 

Viseta guru kawu{da) guru ? Viseta guru mamayi guru. 

Vise basin Hid guru mdtd. Me dese gurun anen yayi dese. 

Polon vise ddra vise. To nedana to daesta kale nam. 

Man daena visa bannam, vise naeti bahu Gurupprardja yd nam. 

On namo. 

The preceptor of the sky, who is the preceptor ? 

The preceptor of the sky, the Sun and the Moon are the two 

The preceptor of the earth, who is the preceptor ? 

The preceptor of the earth, the great Goddess Mahikantawa 
is the preceptor. 

And the preceptor of the cobras, who is the preceptor .? 

MAGIC 199 

The preceptor of the cobras, the Naga is the preceptor. 

The preceptor of poison, who is the preceptor ? 

The preceptor to poison, I am the preceptor. 

For casting down poison (there is) the mother of the teacher 
of the three worlds (Buddha). 

The preceptor of this country will go to another country 
(after death). 

The poison of Polangas is the limit of poison. If thou, not 
knowing (me), shouldst make (it) for (thy) two eyes, I will 
bind (on thee) the poisons which I know, going (afterwards, out 
of thy reach) to the excellent king of many garuda, who have 
no poison. On ! salutation ! 

" A giirii, is a teacher or preceptor, one who has complete 
knowledge of the subject. A student's teacher is his guru. 
The word is also especially used to indicate a Brahman who is 
thoroughly acquainted with the Vedas and the forms of religious 
ceremonies, and who acts as a king's chaplain. Brihaspati, the 
deity of the planet Jupiter, was the guru of the Gods\ 

" Mahikantawa is the Earth Goddess, or personification of 
the earth. 

" Ndga are supernatural beings who take either a human 
form or that of cobras, at will. I think the reference to Maya, 
the mother of Buddha, means that by bringing into the world 
such a son she has reduced the poison of evil deeds and 
thoughts, which are compared to those of the poisonous snakes. 
The poison of the polanga {Daboia russelli) is said to be the 
most powerful of all snake poisons. It is stated that persons 
sometimes die within five minutes after being bitten by this 
snake, and usually within half an hour. There is an idea that 
some snakes have the power of projecting poison from their eyes. 

" The garuda is a fabulous bird which feeds on poisonous 
snakes, especially cobras." 

We failed to obtain any coherent account of the meaning of 

1 In the Ordinances of Mami (Burnell's translation) ii, i and 2, it is stated "That 
Brahman is called Guru who performs according to rule the rites on conception and 
the like, and feeds (the child) with rice (for the first time)." At ii, 149 it is said, 
"He who confers the benefit of the Veda on anyone, be it little or be it much, he 
should know him to be here his Guru, by reason of that benefit through the Veda." 


this charm in the field and are indebted to Mr Parker for the 
following explanation. " I think I understand the meaning of 
this invocation quite clearly. The reciter says ' As the Sun and 
Moon are the preceptors, or the beings or deities who have a 
complete knowledge of the sky ; as Mahikantawa has complete 
knowledge of the earth ; as Nagas have complete knowledge of 
cobras, so I have complete knowledge of all poisons.' He first 
wishes to impress the snake with a belief in his powers, and then 
he threatens it." 

The next charm given by Poromala of Bingoda cures the 
bite of the centipede, but neither Poromala nor Tissahami the 
Vedda Arachi could tell us the meaning of the spell. 

Nangara gtirn, nangara guru, nangara potakun aeragena vtsakutt. 

Man atu bmdagena, rattaeyd pdgdgena, aeli inodard pita siiagena, ape 
guriin sihikaragena, mama yanne visa bdgena, to nedana to daesta kale nam 
man dae7ia visa baemjtan, eyin taekaeij) vise naeta bahu Gurupprardja 
yanam. On namo ! 

Vile preceptors, vile preceptors, poisonous ones taking (with youj vile 
young ones ! 

I, breaking branches, trampling on the Centipede, sitting on the back of 
the White Peacock, reflecting on our preceptors, I will go (only after) casting 
out the poisons. If thou, not knowing (me), shouldst make (poison) for 
(thy) two eyes^, I will bind (on thee) the poisons which I know, after (?) that 
going to the excellent king of many garudas, who have no poison. On, 
Salutation ! 

" The centipede is here treated with much less respect than 
the vertebrates, and the last two words must be said ironically. 
The breaking of branches refers to the custom of making ofTer- 
ings of leafy twigs when asking for the protection of the forest 
Deities. I do not know the white peacock, aeli inonard. (The 
bird is sometimes colloquially called mondard.) It may be the 
peacock that is the riding animal or vahana of the God Skanda, 
which is carved at the Tanjore temple with a snake hanging 
from its bill. Peacocks kill centipedes as well as snakes. 

" The preceptors on whom the exorcist reflects will be those 
mentioned in the spell for cobras — that is Buddha, the Sun and 
Moon, Mahikantawa, and the Nagas who are guardian deities. 
Possibly also Skanda and Ayiyanar, the Guardian Forest Deities 

' Another reading is, If thou (even) unwittingly, hast inade (poison) for (thy) two 

MAGIC 20 1 

of the Sinhalese. I do not understand taekae, there may have 
been some mistake in writing down the charm." 

Charms to Obtain Food. 

Neither amulets nor verbal formulae are used to insure 
straight shooting or the killing of deer or sambar, the two 
animals providing the greater part of the flesh consumed by 
the Veddas ; nor are there amulets or charms to obtain success 
in pig hunting. Doubtless this is because the yakjc when 
properly invoked give success in these matters. There are, 
however, no yakti whose special business it is to give success 
in the monkey drives which are, or were until recently, practised, 
and we found that certain formulae were sung by the members 
of the driving party, and in some case muttered by the men 
who waited in ambush for the monkeys to be driven to them. 
And we were told that the singing or reciting of these formulae 
was necessary to the success of the drive. 

Mr Parker uses the diminutive "doggie" in the translations 
of the two following charms collected at Bandaraduwa in order 
to retain the sense of the originals, which clearly indicates that 
the reciter is speaking coaxingly to the monkeys. The words 
of the charm are literally "dog" and "bitch," the use of which 
in the translation would give a wrong impression. In one 
charm the hunters call the monkeys to them assuring them 
that they are quite safe, for certainly they cannot shoot them. 

Charm sung while driving Wandura monkeys (Bandaraduwa). 

Avivtd may a ?ia kolanddni 
Kolandan kando pita yannt 
Eki kiyald inno kdto, 
Ekit awald yandama yanni. 
" Taek^ taekj'' kiyald wdren balld. 
'•'• Kik, kik" kiyald wdren baelli. 
Ndivini niigaii kando pito, 
Ekita dun7iak widala kodoyi 
Eki yajidatna yandama yanni. 
Keliyen keliyata wdren balld, 
Keli 7nadaldgena duwagena ware. 
Mother mine, the leaf-clad chief, 
Pops behind a leafy trunk ; 


Tells another who is there ; 

She, excited, runs away. 

" Taek, taek," crying, doggie come ; 

"Kik, kik," crying, doggie come. 

In the Na-tree forest hid. 

Safe behind a banyan trunk, 

With a bow she can't be shot, 

Setting off to go, to go. 

Playing, playing, doggie come. 

Stop your games and running come. 

Charm sung while driving Rilawa monkeys (Bandaraduwa). 
Amma mdye nd rosdm 
Rosait kando pita yaiini 
"/?^, i?(?" kiyala wdren balld. 
Burutak kande pito yantid. 
Keliyen koliyata duwagana ware, 
Keli madaldgena duwagena ware. 

Mother mine, the lovely chief, 
Pops behind a cotton trunk, 
" Ro, Ro" crying, doggie come. 
Behind a satin stem she goes. 
Playing, playing, running come ; 
Stop your games and running come. 

The Sinhalese heading of this charm, collected at Henebedda 
(where it was dictated by Poromala of Bingoda) runs Wandiirmi 
nawa tanaka wiya, the translation of which is " said at a place 
where wandiira stay." 

A ill surd da?nanni 

O tnan kaiideta pdiiinnT. 

''^ Ah, OJi^'' klyd wdre nam 

Kola surd datnanni, 

Me man kande natanni. 

Bald silo aeyi dennd ? 
The branches they scratch off and throw down. 
They spring on to that trunk (?). 
Come, indeed, saying "Ah, Oh." 
They scratch off and throw down the leaves. 
They dance on this trunk (?). 
Why did they stop and look, both of them ? 

We could find no trace of any ceremony having for its object 
the control of the supply of game and honey or the increase 
of the number of yams and edible berries. It is assumed that 

MAGIC 203 

these are beyond human control, though the yakii, who in an 
indefinite way are considered to be concerned with them, give 
success in hunting, yam digging and honey gathering. 

Nor could we discover any trace of weather magic in spite 
of the preference for rain indicated in a number of the invoca- 
tions given in Chapter X, as well as by the remark on this 
subject made by Handuna, quoted upon page 84. 

We could not discover among the wilder Veddas any magic 
connected with the bow and arrow, and certainly these were 
never personified or named. We, however, obtained the follow- 
ing "song" from the village Veddas of Bintenne. It was taken 
down just as we were breaking camp and so no special attention 
was paid to it, as we were assured that it was of the same 
nature as other songs we had collected. Mr Parker, who has 
provided the following transliteration and translation, points 
out that, in his opinion, this "song" must be regarded as 
a charm said over an arrow in order to kill monitor lizards. 
To our suggestion that this song might be sung mockingly to 
a particularly bad shot, urging him to tiy again and see if he 
could not hit the lizard in some part of its body, Mr Parker 
replied that this did not seem probable to him. " If this were 
addressed to a person who was a bad shot I hardly think 
expressions would be used such as i inaela which would then 
require to be translated ' younger brother of arrows.' " We 
accordingly treat this formula as a charm and include it in the 
present chapter. 

Mundi Kanda pita waetirl gd, 
Ekata ividapd kiri hure. 
Ettama arapa Z maeld, 
Pitata acctii paldga. 
Etanaina arapa i macld, 
Tomtnaia laetien {paldga). 
Ettafna arapa i meld., 
Tomtnaia aeccen paldga. 
Etanama aerapa i juaeld, 
Bellata laetten paldga. 
Etanama aerapa t maeld, 
Badata laetten paldga. 
Etaftama aerapa i maela., 
Kihila maedden laewiga. 


Go and drop behind the body of the monitor lizard ; 

Pierce it, dear cousin. 

Leave that place, arrow-brother. 

Go and cleave it in the angle (or edge) of the back. 

Leave that place, arrows-brother, 

Go and doubly (?) cleave it in the tail. 

Leave that place, arrow-brother, 

Go and cleave it in the angle of the tail. 

Leave that place, arrow-brother. 

Go and doubly (?) cleave it in the neck. 

Leave that place, arrow-brother. 

Go and doubly (?) cleave it in the stomach. 

Leave that place, arrow-brother, 

Go and fix (yourself) in the middle of the armpit. 

" In order to rhyme all the lines ought to end in a long a. 

" Eitama is an evident mistake for etanania. 

" Tonnna is for tumba, a Vaedi word for tail, the Sinhalese is 

" Acceu and aeccen are for assen, abl. of assa, angle or corner. 

" Laetten is a word I have not previously met with. The 
only probable derivation with which I am acquainted is the 
Tamil iratta. Sin. rette, double, two-fold. 

" Maeld means younger brother. 

'' Kiri hurd, lit. milk cousin, simply means dear cousin." 

Love Charms. 

Love magic or charms to compel love do not seem to exist 
among the wilder Veddas, though in the Bintenne we were told 
that women may charm the waist strings they give to their 
husbands, in order to ensure their fidelity. 


Before discussing the existence of these it is necessary to 
determine to what extent the Veddas now wear, or formerly 
wore, ornaments. 

Disregarding the stories current among the Sinhalese that 
the Veddas formerly had valuable jewellery and pots of pure 
gold — legends of which the Veddas themselves are quite 

MAGIC 205 

ignorant — the evidence for the use of jewellery or personal 
ornaments worn for their own sake is limited to the former 
wearing of ear ornaments by the Vedda women. Bailey states 
that the women "have their ears pierced and wear in the 
lobes round studs of ivory \" and this was confirmed by our old 
Sinhalese informant, whose evidence as to the former condition 
of the Veddas has been given in Chapter .11. It seems that 
men did not wear ear ornaments, although we met some village 
Veddas (Dambani) who wore earrings, and a few men in other 
communities were seen with pierced ears. This point of view is 
confirmed by Nevill who wrote, " Men occasionally v/ore a few 
large beads on their waist string, if they could afford it, but no 
other jewels," and he describes the women's ear ornaments as 
" ear-jewels, the size of a man's thumb made of ivory, white 
horn, or bone, and carved or etched... worn through the lobe 
of the ear^." 

At the present time among the wilder Veddas neither men 
nor women wear beads or ornaments of any kind, though the 
women are pleased to accept beads as presents. 

It is otherwise among the more sophisticated Veddas of the 
Bintenne. At Omuni all the women and girls wore beads, and 
though they could not account for their origin, we were able to 
ascertain that they had been in their possession at least five 
generations. They descended usually from grandmother to 
granddaughter, some strings being given to each girl-child at 
birth, the rest being usually given when the girl married, or 
on the death of the grandmother. These beads are of glass, 
mostly red though some are green and a few white. They have 
been identified by Mr C. H. Read as 17th century Venetian 
beads, and were doubtless a present from some notable who 
required assistance from the Veddas as he passed through their 

This summarises all we have been able to learn concerning 
the use of personal ornaments among the Veddas, and though 
Nevill states, presumably of the Veddas of the Bintenne, that 
they " delight to deck their hair with bright or fragrant flowers," 
we were unable to find any trace of this practice occurring 
1 Op. cit. p. 284. * Oi). cit. p. 190. 


among the wilder Veddas at the present day. It therefore 
appears that although beads are worn as ornaments by the 
members of certain communities in the Bintenne there is no 
evidence for their use as such among the Veddas to the east of 
the Badulla-Batticaloa road. 

We may next consider certain facts which seem to indicate 
that beads may be sometimes treated as amulets, or at least as 
having magical power. At Bandaraduwa where there has been 
a great deal of Sinhalese influence, one woman wore a piece 
of knotted string round her throat which had been charmed 
and put on by a Sinhalese to cure her of some ailment. When 
we gave her a string of beads she was very pleased and im- 
mediately broke the old charmed string and put the beads 
round her neck in place of it. 

At Bendiyagalge all the women were particularly anxious 
for us to give beads to their children and immediately put these 
round their necks, but those given to themselves were not 
usually put on in our presence. In both these cases there is 
only the suggestion that beads were regarded as anything more 
than ornaments, and this also holds good as regards the beads 
of bear's bone worn by Kaira of Bingoda already recorded, 
but in the following cases the relation of beads to the yakii- is 
perfectly clear. The women of Unuwatura Bubula, though 
they possessed beads of the same kind as those worn by the 
women of Omuni, were afraid to wear them, and gave them 
to the shaman to keep and use in yaku ceremonies. In this 
village we found that women would not accept red beads as 
presents because "they were afraid," though they readily took 
the white beads offered them, and the shaman when dancing 
to the Alut Yakini wore cross shoulder straps of old beads, 
and similar beads were kept for Indigollae Yaka. 

There is equally strong evidence of the definite association 
of beads with \\iQ yaku in other communities, though the reason 
for this association could not be determined. At Sitala Wan- 
niya a band of bast was placed upon the offering to the Rahu 
Yaku, and our informants said that they would have used beads 
instead of the bast had they possessed therr. At the same 
place when preparing for the dance to Dola Yaka, who gives 

MAGIC 207 

success in honey gathering, the shaman asked us for two strings 
of beads. These beads he placed over betel leaves upon two 
arrows thrust in the centre of the dancing ground which were 
surrounded by betel leaves offered to the yaka. These beads 
were said to represent the rough rope of creeper with which the 
green twigs forming the smoker were secured and the rope by 
which the smoker was lowered to the comb. 

When it is remembered that Veddas do not tattoo or paint 
themselves, and have never been seen wearing any kind of seeds 
as ornaments, it seems reasonable to assume that where beads 
are sought after by the Veddas they are valued for their sup- 
posed magical properties. 

In conclusion we may give the only perfectly clear instance 
of a Vedda wearing an amulet with which we are acquainted. 
The shaman of Bandaraduwa wore on his wrist a small silver 
cylinder such as is commonly used to contain a written charm. 
The cylinder was empty and had never contained a charm, but 
the shaman told us that he wore it in order to be cured of an 
illness from which he had suffered formerly, and that presently 
he would give the cylinder to some pilgrim proceeding to Kata- 
ragam in order that he might deposit it in the temple there. 

The Eating of Human Liver. 

Every group of Veddas except the most sophisticated village 
Veddas believe that it was formerly the custom for a man to 
carry in his betel pouch a small piece of dry human liver. But 
the majority of our informants were not clear as to the exact 
reason for doing this, though they were all agreed that it had 
something to do with raising a man's valour and making him 
strong to bear trouble. It was essential that the liver should 
be taken from a man killed by the individual who proposed to 
carry a portion of the dried liver in his pouch. When a man 
had been killed the slayer would open his belly and take out 
a small portion of his liver which he would dry in the sun in 
a secret place. This custom appears to have ceased about 
three generations ago, but the following instance, said to have 
occurred about fifty years ago, was given us at Bandaraduwa. 


The headman of a small group of Kovil Vanamai Veddas 
killed a Sinhalese simply because he required a piece of human 
liver to keep in his betel pouch. In spite of this example the 
Bandaraduvva people could not tell us exactly how it was used, 
and it was only at Sitala Wanniya that it was ascertained that 
the purpose of the dried liver was to make men strong and 
confident to avenge insults. A man would bite off a piece of 
the dried liver and chew it, saying to himself: "I have killed 
this man ; why should I not be strong and confident and kill 
this other one who has insulted me .'' " As far as we could 
understand a Vedda might thus work himself up into a con- 
dition of berseker fury, but this was only done after very serious 
insult, as when a man's wife had been carried off or been 
unfaithful, or when his bow and arrows had been stolen or an 
attempt made to take his land or caves^ 

^ It was doubtless an exaggerated account of this practice that led Gillings to 
accuse the Veddas of cannibalism (Jotirn. Roy. As. Soc, Ceylon Branch, 1853). 



With a single possible exception the dances of the Veddas 
are ceremonial and are performed with the object of becoming 
possessed by a yaka in the manner that has already been stated 
in Chapter VI where the subjective phenomena of possession are 
discussed. The majority of the ceremonial dances described in 
this chapter are pantomimic, and so well illustrate the objective 
manifestations of the condition of possession that little need be 
said on this subject, though it may be well to repeat our con- 
viction that there is no considerable element of pretence in the 
performance of the shaman. The sudden collapse which ac- 
companies the performance of some given act of the panto- 
mime, usually an important event towards which the action has 
been leading up, is the feature that is most difficult to explain. 
According to the Veddas themselves it occurs when a yaka 
suddenly leaves the individual possessed, but it does not 
invariably accompany the cessation of possession, and it may 
equally occur when the individual becomes possessed, as at the 
Bandaraduwa Nae Yaku ceremony described on pages 233 to 
237, where the first sign of possession shown by the brothers of 
the dead man was their collapse into the arms of their sup- 
porters. This can be explained as the result of expectancy, 
they expected to be overcome by the spirit of the deceased, 
and in fact this happened. In this connection we may refer to 
a Sinhalese " devil ceremony " which we witnessed in the remote 
jungle village of Gonagolla in the Eastern Province. One of us 
has described this ceremony elsewhere^ but we would here 

^ Brenda Z. Seligmann, "A Devil Ceremony of the Peasant Sinhalese," /ournal 
Roy. Anthrop. Inst. Vol. xxxvni, 1908. 

S. v. 14 


specially refer to the condition of the katandirale or "devil 
dancer" when dealing with the dangerous demon Riri Yaka. 
Although he took special precautions to prevent the demon 
entering him, that is to say to avoid possession by the demon, 
he almost collapsed, requiring to be supported in the arms of an 
assistant as under the assaults of \\\q yaka he tottered with drawn 
features and half open quivering lips and almost closed eyes. 
Yet avowedly he was not possessed by the demon, but on the 
contrary was successful in warding off possession. His whole 
appearance was that of a person suffering from some amount of 
shock and in a condition of partial collapse, while the rapidity 
with which he passed into deep sleep immediately Riri Yaka, 
and his almost equally dreaded consort Riri Yakini, had left 
him, also favour the genuine character of his sufferings, con- 
cerning which he said that although he had never completely 
lost consciousness he had been near doing so and had felt giddy 
and nauseated \ Here we have a condition only a degree short 
of possession, occurring in an individual who not only hoped and 
expected to avoid being possessed by the spirit whom he invoked 
to come to the offering, but took elaborate precautions to prevent 
it. Had he become possessed it would have been a disaster 
which would have led to his illness and perhaps death, and 
would certainly have frustrated the object of the ceremony. 
Here there can have been no desire to lose consciousness, yet 
as the result of anticipation of the attack of the yaka the 
katandirale came near collapse. 

This in our opinion throws a flood of light on Vedda 
possession and the collapse which may take place at its 
beginning, but it does not directly explain the collapse often 
experienced when a yaka leaves a person. But here we may 
seek assistance in the idea of analogy ; when a spirit leaves the 
body, collapse and unconsciousness, permanent (death) or 
temporary (swoon, fainting fits or sleep), ensue. When the 
yaka leaves the body which for the time it has entirely 

^ During the condition of partial collapse the dancer's face was covered with sweat 
and so felt clammy, but this may only have been the resul' of his previous exertions; 
his pulse was small and rapid and was certainly over 120 though the conditions 
prevented it being accurately counted. 


dominated, what more natural than that collapse should occur 
or be feigned by the less honest or susceptible practitioners ? 
There is no doubt that the Vedda ceremonies make con- 
siderable demand on the bodily powers of the dancers, but 
this is not so great as in the case of the Sinhalese devil 
ceremony of Gonagolla, since the Vedda ceremonies are of 
shorter duration — none we saw lasted over two hours and the 
majority certainly did not take so long. In spite of this we 
noted, after more than one ceremony, that the shaman was 
genuinely tired, and this was the case at Sitala Wanniya, 
where Kaira appeared actually exhausted at the end of the 
Pata Yaka ceremony. 

We may now refer to the steps of the Vedda dance. The 
Drs Sarasin have described the steps of the arrow dance of the 
Henebedda Veddas in an elaborate and rather formal manner. 
We shall shortly quote their description of this dance and mean- 
while content ourselves with summarising the movements of the 
Vedda dances. Essentially, these appear to consist of steps 
taken alternately with each foot, each step being followed by a 
couple of pats on the ground delivered with the ball of the foot 
that is in advance, and after each such movement with right or 
left foot a half turn is made. The rhythm of the dance is kept 
by swaying the body gently from the waist, the hands (when 
not beating the body or holding an object) being allowed to 
swing freely ; with each half turn forward the body is inclined 
forward and the head bent so that the hair falls over the face, 
and with each half turn backwards the head is thrown back- 
wards. The dance always begins slowly and gently, the back 
foot still touching the ground while that foot with which the 
step has been made performs the double pat, so that just at first 
it is little more than a shuffle, soon, however, the feet are raised 
more and more and longer paces are taken, the back foot no 
longer remains on the ground while the double pat is made and 
the swaying and bending of the body is greatly increased. 

When the faka enters the person of a shaman it is customary 
for him to inspect the offerings, and if he is pleased — which is 
almost invariably the case — he will show his pleasure. This is 
usually done by bending the head low over the offering, then 



springing away and shouting "Ah! Ah!" while taking short 
deep breaths. The natural outcome of the yaka's gratitude is 
a promise of favours to the community. When prophesying 
good luck, the shaman places one or both hands on the 
participant's shoulders, or if he carries an aitde or other sacred 
object, the shaman holds this against the latter's chest or, more 
rarely, presses it on the top of his head. His whole manner is 
agitated and he usually shufifles his feet, speaks in a hoarse 
somewhat guttural voice taking short deep breaths, and 
punctuates his remarks with a deep " Ah ! Ah ! " 

With regard to the arrows and other special objects which 
are used when invoking the yaku, in which class we include such 
bower-like structures as the alutyakagama, the ruwala and the 
kolomadtnva, all described in this Chapter, we must point out that 
these simply act as conductors and resting places for the yakn. 
It was stated that Kande Yaka could not and would not come 
when invoked, unless his arrow were held, and the same idea 
accounts for the arrow dance, performed round an arrow struck 
in the ground in order to obtain game. Again the leaves in 
the bower-like structures with the aid of which the yakii were 
invoked were considered the resting place of the yakii which 
they left in order to enter the shaman. The number of yakit 
who came to the bower was not thought to be limited to those 
who possessed the shaman, on the contrary, important j«/^z^ were 
thought to bring their attendants {piriwari), who remained 
among the leaves which their lord left to possess the shaman, 
and it was to drive away the yaku who might unduly prolong 
their stay in the bower prepared for them, that the leaves were 
beaten and more or less stripped from the bowers at the end of 
the ceremony. 

Before leaving the subject we would point out that though 
yaku might be spoken of as arrow-yaka (Itale Yaka), bow-yaka 
(Dunne Yakini) and so forth, such names do not imply that the 
yaka in question is immanent in the object or is believed to 
stand in specially close relationship to all objects of that class. 
In the case of Itale Yaka the idea was '' \h& yaka who is invoked 
by means of an arrow " ; in the case of Dunne Yakini the name 
simply refers to the skill of the nameless heroine who killed the 


boar wounded by the companions of Bandura, as is related in 
the Bambura Yaka dance. 

The Henebedda Veddas washed before performing or assisting 
at the kirikoraJia seen by us, and every Vedda who invoked the 
yaku, either let down his hair before beginning to dance or while 
dancing, in the latter instance presumably as he felt "possession" 
coming upon him. Many Veddas put on the hangala before 
dancing, this being a length of white cloth worn round the waist 
as is shown in many of the photographs reproduced in this 
chapter. Presumably this was not worn for the arrow dance, 
which is especially performed by unsuccessful hunters without 
any special preparation. We do not think that a leaf girdle was 
ever worn as a ceremonial garment when dancing. Handuna of 
Sitala Wanniya said that at some time, which he put more than 
three generations ago, there were Veddas, whom he called 
AWikola Veddo, who lived so remote from the Sinhalese that 
they had no cloth and so always wore leaf girdles, but he was 
quite confident that no Veddas who had cloth ever wore such 
girdles especially to invoke X)\^ yaku. This agrees with Nevill's 
conclusions^ and does not conflict with the experience of the 

The Roman numbers in parentheses after references to in- 
vocations in the accounts of the ceremonies described in this 
chapter refer to the invocations given in Chapter X. 

The Arrow Dance. 

This, the simplest of the Vedda dances, has been described 
at length by the Drs Sarasin w^ho saw it danced by " Veddas of 
the Nilgala districts ' We have already quoted Bailey's account 
of the arrow dance as he found it danced by the ancestors of 
these Veddas two generations ago, and Monsieur Emile 

^ "I have especially questioned the best informed Vaeddas whether leaves were 
worn, either at ceremonies or otherwise. They all say yes, they were worn once, 
when cotton cloth was hard and dear to get, by those who lived where there were no 
Riti trees. They were only worn by the poorest, and from necessity, not choice. 
The leaves chosen were those of shrubs, the branches of which ended in rather 
pendulous sprays of foliage, and these were tucked under the waist string as a sort 
of apron." Op. cii. p. 188. 

- Op. cit. pp. 387—389. 3 Op. at. pp. 512—514. 


Deschamps has given an account of the same dance as it 
occurs among the village Veddas of Bintenne, while it has 
also been mentioned by other authors including Davy and 

Figures i and 2 of Plate XXVI show this dance as we saw it 
performed at Henebedda. An arrow was thrust into the ground 
and round this the Veddas circled, singing an invocation and 
keeping time by slapping their flanks with their open hands. 
The Drs Sarasin have carefully analysed the movements per- 
formed in this dance, and the following account is taken from 
their work. 

" Only men dance. They form a circle round an arrow 
thrust into the ground ; they do not touch one another and 
move slowly round the arrow.... Each dancer turns once towards 
the left, in doing which he keeps the right leg motionless 
and steps convulsively forwards on the ground with the left, 
keeping time and giving the body a slight jerk backwards ; then 
when he has executed a half turn he remains standing on the 
left leg and makes spasmodic trembling movements with the 
right as he pushes off from the ground. Thus continually 
executing half turns, and after completing one half turn using 
that leg which has just been moved as a support, the dancer 
slowly proceeds backwards in a circle round the arrow. Each 
dancer pays no regard to his neighbour while executing his 
circling movements, his sole object being to get round the 
arrow in the manner described ; so that all the dancers are 
not making precisely the same movement at one time. For 
example, if one dancer turns on his left leg and his neighbour 
on his right leg at the same time then it happens that the two 
sometimes have their faces and sometimes their backs towards 
each other. ...Although the legs, as described, come comparatively 
little and at all events not extensively into play, there being no 
jumping or hopping... the arms are moved the more vigorously. 
As the body swings round they are extended and flung about 
and at the conclusion of the turn they are violently flung 
away from the body ; after the performance of every half turn 
the dancers beat hard on their bellies, which take the place of 
musical instruments of which they have none. ...The head which 

Plate XXVI 

Fig. I. Arrow dance (Henebedda) 

Fig. 2. Arrow dance (Henebedda) 


is thrown back at the completion of every turn is flung forward 
and downward in the direction of the movement while this is 
taking place. In doing this the mane-like bush of hair is tossed 
forwards like a horse's tail over the face ; subsequently on the 
completion of every half turn it is tossed back again as the head 
is flung back, so that the hair is constantly being swung through 
the air from the right back to the left front and vice versa; this 
happens independently of the direction of movement round the 
arrow.... As the dancers at the same time gasp out loudly a 
monotonous song with which their movements keep time — they 
work themselves up into a state of extreme nervous excitement 
and the sweat pours down them ; the beating on the stomach 
becomes louder and louder... then after a time one after another 
falls full length on the ground exhausted, and remains on his 
back for a time still uttering howls between his gasps and 
trembling convulsively at the same time in all his limbs. Then 
suddenly all rise at once and the dance is at an end\" 

Although this account shows that the dance performed for 
the Sarasins was rather more vigorously enacted than the one 
danced for our benefit, it recalls in violence of gesture the figures 
of a dance which we saw at Wellampelle among the village 
Veddas. One of these men evidently knew what was expected 
of him by strangers, for almost directly he saw us he began to 
dance and soon 'lay quivering on the ground. Obviously such 
exhibitions as this are not examples of genuine possession, nor 
was the arrow dance we saw at Henebedda which was danced 
at our request, and we believe that all, or almost all, the arrow 
dances described in literature must simply be regarded as more 
or less accurate rehearsals^ 

Further, the accounts given by various authors show that the 
dances they saw were danced with varying degrees of frenzy, 
the difference in some instances being so marked as to give 
force to the Sarasins' suggestion that the arrow dance varies 
in detail in different communities. 

1 Op. cit. pp. 512, 513. 

2 The pantomime of honey gathering enacted for our benefit by the Henebedda 
-Veddas, and those of Sitala Wanniya, show that the Veddas are good actors and enter 
thoroughly into the spirit of the parts they take. 


We were told at Bandaraduvva that if men had no luck in 
hunting they might thrust an arrow into the ground, decorate it 
with leaves of the na tree {Messtia ferrugiiied) or the inille^ and 
dance round it. If a shaman were present, which was not 
necessary, he would naturally take part in this, and any 
number might participate. This dance was performed at our 
request, the shaman and a Vedda called Tambia taking part in 
it. Two clusters of na leaves were tied to an arrow, one just 
below the feathers and another immediately above the blade. 
This was struck in the ground (Plate XXVII, fig. i) and the 
dancers slowly moved round it singing an invocation (No. XV). 
Soon they both became possessed, the shaman falling into the 
arms of his supporter (Plate XXVII, fig. 2), almost immediately 
after which he came to one of the onlookers and promised him 
a sambar deer if he would hunt in a westerly direction early the 
next morning. Several times during the dance the performers 
touched the leaves tied to the upper part of the arrow, and 
bending low gathered them up to their faces (as in Plate XXVIII, 
fig. i), while their hair mingled with the leaves. The shaman 
afterwards explained that the yaka first came to the arrow and 
the leaves tied to it, and then entered the persons of the dancers 
who became possessed. Before the yaka left the dancers bent 
low over the arrow shaking their heads violently, and after the 
dance both men salaamed to the arrow. 

The yaka invoked in this dance was sometimes called Itale 
Yaka (Arrow Yaka), and though identical with Kande Yaka, 
there was nevertheless a tendency to think of Itale Yaka as a 
separate spirit, who was not so generally well disposed as Kande 
Yaka. We discovered this by the shaman refusing to sing the 
invocation into the phonograph when we were surrounded by 
children, lest his attention being attracted, \}aQ yaka should come, 
which might be dangerous to the little ones. It must be 
remembered that the Bandaraduwa community had been much 
exposed to foreign influence, so that there is nothing surprising 
in their yaku having to a certain extent assumed the dangerous 
complexion of Sinhalese and Tamil demons. 

Although the arrow dance originally had, and still has, a 
religious significance, since it is danced to procure game and as 

Plate XXVII 

Fig. I. I tale Yaka ceremony. Arrow with Na leaves attached 

( Bandaraduwa)* 

Fig. 2. Itale Yaka ceremony (Bandaraduwa)* 

Plate XXX'III 

Fig^. I. Itale Yaka ceremony (Bandaraduwa)" 

Fig-. 2. The Adukku Denawa ceremony (Henebedda) 


a means of propitiating Kande Yaka or interesting him in the 
hunters, it may also be danced for pleasure. In this case it 
seems to lose much of its peculiar character and tends to de- 
generate into a dance made up of fragments of the dances proper 
to a number of different ceremonies, which varies in constitution 
according to the fancy of the dancers. But that such per- 
formances are derived from ceremonial dances is shown by the 
imitation of the actions of the shaman which one or more of the 
dancers may introduce. 

The dance we cite next was performed in the courtyard of 
the Public Works Department bungalow at Ambilinne, where 
we gave a night's lodging to four of the Henebedda Veddas. 
These were some of the first Veddas we met and the dance 
they performed that evening was the first Vedda dance we had 
seen, and it was not until we had seen a number of Vedda 
ceremonies that we recognised that the dance in question was a 
parody of their own religious dances, performed for their own 
amusement after what was to them an unusually good meal\ 

After a little singing three or four men began to dance, the 
time being about 9 p.m. Their action was quite unconstrained, 
and each man went his own way, though a rhythm was supplied 
by the song refrain and the slapping of their hands on their 
chests and flanks. In the opening figure, in which an arrow was 
planted in the ground, the performers began to move round it 
right hands inwards and clockwise, but very soon one performer 
was circling anti-clockwise between the other two going clock- 
wise. The two performers who had not planted their arrows 
held these in their hands in front of them, one hand lightly 
grasping the blade and the other the head of the arrow, while 
with body somewhat bent forward they moved the arrows from 
side to side as they danced. The steps were taken with legs 
tolerably wide apart, the weight of the body being supported on 
one leg while the other was scraped along the ground by some- 
what tilting the pelvis. This movement took place alternately 
on the two legs, though sometimes a double pat was substituted 

1 In this respect our dance resembles that witnessed by M. Deschamps {Aie Pays 
des Veddas, pp. 387, 388), which was danced spontaneously by a number of village 
Veddas of Bintenne. 


for the simple scrape of the ground. After some time when the 
circle had become quite broken the three dancers grunted loudly 
"Oh-h-h," and held their arrows up to the sky toward which 
they waved them before suddenly falling flat on their backs. 
They were lifted up and supported by a companion, and they 
then approached the Sinhalese headman who was present and 
promised him and one of us a white buffalo each for the next 
day. This was done in a manner we afterwards recognised to 
have been an excellent imitation of the actions of one possessed 
by thejaku, though it is certain that this dance was not a real 
possession dance, while the condition of the pulse in the dancers, 
surprisingly quiet in view of the violent exercise they had taken, 
showed that the falling down was not due to exhaustion. In 
other figures no arrow was planted in the ground and the dance 
did not begin with a circular movement; in some of these figures 
the point of the arrow which is in the right hand may be lowered 
almost to the ground, and the obliquely inclined arrow swepj: 
forward and backward perhaps in imitation of a shaman possessed 
by Kande Yaka tracking the sambar in the manner described in 
the account of the kirikoraha. 

The Kirikoraha Ceremony. 

The pantomimic ceremonial dance by which the favour of 
the spirits {yakit) of the hunting hero Kande Wanniya and his 
brother Bilindi is secured is called kirikot-alia. It must be noted 
that this term, literally translated, signifies "milk bowl," and 
though the presentation to the yaku of a kirikoraha, i.e. a pot 
containing coconut milk, is essential in several other ceremonies 
they were not called kirikoraha. The "milk" consists of the 
fluid which can be squeezed from the shredded meat of the 
coconut and is mixed with water. If the coconut juice be not 
diluted excessively the fluid so produced has a very pleasant 
flavour, and in appearance is not unlike milk^ Whenever 
"milk" is spoken of as offered to \hQ yaku this fluid is meant: 
the "water" of the coconut is not valued, and though it may be 
used in preparing the milk instead of water (as was the case at 

^ This is the usual method throughout Ceylon of making the coconut milk so 
largely used as a flavouring agent. 


the Henebedda kirikorahd) it is usually poured on the ground 
without any ceremony. 

A description of the phenomena of "possession" of the Vedda 
shaman by the yakii has already been given in Chapter VI, so 
that nothing need be said on that matter in connection with this 
dance or any of the ceremonies described in this chapter, in all 
of which "possession" occurred. 

The essential features of the kirikoraha are two in number. 
The first of these is the offering of coconut milk and generally 
of other food to Kande Yaka and Bilindi Yaka and sometimes 
other yaku regarded as their attendants. Secondly the panto- 
mimic representation by the shaman, while possessed by Kande 
Yaka, of Kande Wanniya tracking and shooting a sambar deer. 
This pantomime seems to occur only when " possession " by 
Kande Yaka takes place, for whenever any pantomime of this 
sort was enacted, even in the most shortened and conventional 
form, as in the Nae Yaku ceremony (described on pp. 233 to 
237 of this chapter), the shaman was held to be possessed 
by Kande Yaka. 

We witnessed four kirikoraha ceremonies during our stay in 
the Vedda country. One was performed by the Henebedda 
Veddas in thanksgiving for a fine buck which one of them had 
shot, and the other three were undertaken at our request, but we 
have no doubt that they were accurately performed; for the 
Veddas were always pleased to perform any ceremonial dance 
provided the correct offering were given, as thereby they gained 
the favour oiXSx^ yaku, and it was seldom that they were able to 
offer such food as we gave them for the purpose. The kirikoraha 
ceremony appears to be held equally as a thanksgiving for game 
killed and in order to obtain success in the future. 

The Kirikoraha at Bendiyagalge. A fine buck was killed 
late in the afternoon of the 7th of February, 1908, and was 
carried to a flat rock between our camp and the Bendiyagalge 
caves and rapidly skinned and cut up during the short tropical 
twilight. A kirikoraha ceremony was performed the next 
morning, before taking part in which all the men went to the 
neighbouring stream and bathed, and afterwards made an offering 
of food to the yaku. 


Some rice with coconut and chillies had previously been 
cooked at the cave together with certain portions of the deer, 
the flesh from the head, sternum and front of the ribs, and the 
whole was brought down to the talawa. This food formed the 
offering iadiik), and the ceremony oi adukku denawa or "offering 
the food " was performed before the dance began. The shaman, 
Randu Wanniya, squatted in front of the food, and with his 
hands together repeated a dedicatory invocation to Kande Yaka 
and Bilindi Yaka, which lasted nearly ten minutes, and con- 
sisted mainly, if not entirely, of repetitions of invocation No. XIX. 
It was performed in gratitude for all deer and sambar killed, and 
in it \\\Q yakit were invited to accept the offering of food which 
was left for them for a short time and afterwards eaten by the 
Veddas themselves. Fig. 2 of Plate XXVIII shows the shaman 
invoking the yakii with the offering in front of him. This 
ceremony, called adukku denawa (literally "the giving of cooked 
food "), is always held before a kirikoraJia when game has been 
killed, but it is not itself part of the latter ceremony. 

An open part of the talawa near the caves was selected as a 
dancing ground, and a tripod called mukkaliya was made by 
binding three sticks together on which an earthen pot, the kiri- 
koraha, was placed, and a ceremonial arrow {aude) laid upon it. 

The shaman took a coconut and the aude, held them to his 
head and salaamed while Poromala smeared some resin on a 
stick and afterwards censed the aude which was held so that the 
smoke might eddy round it, for thus would Kande Yaka smell 
the incense and be pleased (Plate XXIX, fig. i). At the same 
time the shaman repeated the invocation (No. XIX) to Kande Yaka. 

This appeared to be one of the many incidents pointing to 
the fact that when yaku are invoked they first come to their 
special vehicles (Kande always to an a2ide, other yaku to leaves, 
swords and various articles), and from these enter the person of 
the shaman. 

AH sang the invocation, and the shaman danced round the 
tripod holding the aude and coconut together in both hands and 
waving them rhythmically as he performed the orthodox Vedda 
step, i.e. one pace with each foot followed by a couple of pats on 
the ground with the ball of the same foot, every step being 

Plate XXIX 

Fig. I. Kirikoraha ceremony, censing the aude and coconut (Henebedda) 

Fig. 2. Kirikoraha ceremony, the shaman dances with the aude and coconut 


Plate XXX 

Fig. I. Kirikoraha ceremony, the shaman dances with the aude and coconut 


Fig. 2. Kirikoraha ceremony, the shaman breaking the coconut (Henebedda) 


followed by a half turn of the body to the accompaniment of 
sounds produced by some of those who were not dancing slapping 
their sides. The shaman next sang the invocation to Bilindi 
Yaka (No. xxi), and after a short time he showed signs of 
becoming possessed; he shivered and shook his head, and with 
the aiide in his right hand he struck the coconut which he held 
in his left and broke it in half (Plate XXX, fig. 2), letting the 
water fall into the kirikoraha. The way in which the nut split was 
prophetic; if a clean break was made the animal to be promised 
later would be a female, but if the edges were jagged a male would 
be shot. The shaman was now possessed by Bilindi Yaka, and 
with half the nut in each hand came to each of us in turn, placed 
his arms on our shoulders, and in the hoarse gasping voice of the 
yaka promised us good hunting and protection from wild animals. 

Two of the younger Veddas, Poromala and Sita Wanniya, 
scraped the meat of the coconut with the aude to make the milk, 
and afterwards placed one half shell on the end of one of the 
sticks forming the tripod, and the other below the kirikoraha. 
Leaves taken from any tree, but said to represent betel leaves, 
were also placed in the kii-ikoraha. There was no reason for 
the particular position of the coconut shells, but as they were 
considered part of the offering to the yakn, it would have 
been considered disrespectful to the yakn to place them on 
the eround. This rule was observed in all the dances that we 
witnessed. All sang the invocation again, and the shaman, 
Randu Wanniya, continued to dance, holding the handle of 
the atide in the right hand and the point of the blade in the 
left, turning it with a rotatory movement as he danced, gradually 
swaying his body more and more and lifting his feet higher 
from the ground. He went to the kirikoraha and inspected 
the milk, letting it run through his fingers (Plate XXXI, fig. i), 
and dropping some on the aude to see if it was rich enough. 
Apparently he was satisfied with its quality, and soon he fell 
back into the arms of Sita Wanniya who supported him. After 
a short time he revived with much quivering of muscles and 
gasping for breath, and taking a handful of the coconut milk he 
shouted and approached Tissahami the Vedda Arachi^ (who 

^ This man, concerning whom something has been said on p. 41, was known to 


was then staying in our camp) and scattered the milk over him, 
while with the right hand on his shoulder he expressed his 
pleasure in seeing him and promised him luck in hunting. 
Then after prophesying good hunting to each of us in turn and 
to several of the Veddas, Bilindi Yaka left the shaman. 

Randu Wanniya again danced eastward round the kirikoraha, 
holding the aude in both hands, but soon he began to crouch 
and point it to the ground, and then pretended to thrust it at 
imaginary footprints (Plate XXXI, fig. 2). His excited manner 
showed that he was now possessed by Kande Yaka, whom he 
represented following the slot of a sambar. Soon Sita Wanniya 
took the a7ide away from him and gave him a bow and arrow, and 
the tracking continued amidst intense excitement (Plate XXXII, 
fig. i). Sita Wanniya followed closely, ready to support the 
shaman if he should fall, while others pointed out the slot to 
him till at last, a basket having been placed on the ground, he 
drew his bow and transfixed it. 

Plate XXXII, fig. 2 shows the group round the shaman as 
the arrow left the bow. As the arrow sped the shaman fell 
back seemingly exhausted and almost senseless. The yaka did 
not, however, finally depart from the shaman, but merely went 
to the quarry to ascertain if his arrow had proved fatal. The 
shaman soon came to himself, apparently satisfied, and bent 
his head (Plate XXXIII, fig. i) over the kirikoraha, and then 
shouting "Ah, ah!" in the usual agitated manner of one possessed 
by the yakit came to each of us in turn and placed the aude on 
our heads, thereby granting us jungle favour, after which he 
went to several of the Veddas prophesying good luck in hunting 
to each of them (Plate XXXIII, fig. 2). Then taking the half 
shells of the coconut in either hand and waving them about, he 
danced round the kirikoraha and bent his head over the pot so 
that the yaka might drink, and afterwards fell into the arms of 
Sita Wanniya, who had been following, ready to support him. 
Again the shaman revived, and, putting his arms on our in- 
terpreter, promised him victory in all undertakings. Then 
returning to the kirikoraha, and having given the aitde to one of 

the Henebedda community and was much respected both because of his Vedda blood 
and because of his renown as a charmer and medicine man (vederale). 

Plate XXXI 

Fig. I. Kirikoraha ceremony, the shaman examines the offering of coconut 

milk (Henebedda) 

Fig. 2. Kirikoraha ceremony, the shaman tracking the sambar (Henebedda) 

Plate XXXII 

Fig. I. Kirikoraha ceremony, the shaman tracking- the sambar (Henebedda)- 

Fig-. 2. Kirikoraha ceremony, the shaman shoots the sambar (Henebedda) 


Figf. I. Kirikoraha ceremony, the shaman bends his head over the coconut 

milk (Henebedda) 

Fig. 2. Kirikoraha ceremony, the shaman possessed by Bilindi Yaka 
promises good hunting (Henebedda) 

Plate XXXIV 

Kirikoraha ceremony, the shaman about to spin the pot (Henebedda) 


the onlookers, who were all willing assistants, he filled the palms 
of his hands with milk and bounded forward, and raising his 
hands with every step he scattered the milk, and in this manner 
the yaka within him showed his pleasure. Next he took the 
kirikoraha from the tripod with both hands (Plate XXXIV, 
fig. i), spun it on the ground, and immediately it left his 
hands he fell back. The spinning was prophetic, for in that 
direction towards which the bowl dipped as it came to rest, there 
game would be found; and on this occasion it dipped to the 
north. When the shaman revived a few seconds later, Kande 
Yaka had left him, and he was possessed by Bilindi Yaka again. 
With shouts, gasping and trembling, he came to most of the 
onlookers and promised good hunting in the usual manner, then 
he took the kirikoraha and spun it, but when it left his hands the 
spirit departed from the shaman and he fell back. 

The dance was now over, and all were eager to partake of 
the coconut milk which had been offered to the j^/^^/, for none of 
it might be wasted. All the men took a little, and also fed the 
children with it, but the vv^omen were not allowed to partake of 
it. However, as the mere contact of the milk had virtue the 
shaman rubbed some on their heads. In other less sophisticated 
communities women were not looked upon as unclean, and they 
shared in this and other food offered to the yakti. As has 
already been stated there is little doubt that the idea of 
women being unclean has been borrowed from the Sinhalese, 
among whom it is very strongly held. A little of the contents 
of the kirikoraha might also be rubbed on the heads of the dogs 
which were supposed to be more likely to hunt successfully 
after this. 

The Kirikoraha at Sitala Wanniya. Kande Yaka, 
Bilindi Yaka and Indigollae Yaka were all invoked at the 
kirikoraha held at Sitala Wanniya. Indigollae was held to 
be the principal attendant of Kande Yaka, and though the 
invocation sung to him refers to " seven pots of blood " our 
informants were unable to give us any meaning for this\ 

Handuna, the shaman of the Sitala Wanniya community, did 

^ This matter is briefly discussed in Chapter x after the invocation (No. xxxii) to 
Indigollae Yaka. 


not possess an aude, having given his to a white man who knew 
not its value, but since an aiide must be used when invoking 
Kande Yaka and BiHndi Yaka, Handuna unfastened the blade 
from one of his shooting arrows to represent an aude. Having 
put on the Jiangala he burnt some resin and censed the 
kirikoraJia. This had been placed on a support of the usual 
form in the centre of the dancing ground, and the arrow blade 
and some betel leaves had been placed in it. Two pots of 
boiled rice had been placed upon a small platform or altar 
{maesa) which had been built for, and used in, another 

The shaman raised the coconut and salaamed to the 
kirikoraJta and then danced round and round it, singing the 
invocation given in Chapter X (No. xvi) and exhibiting the 
nut to the yakii and thrusting at the pot as he danced though 
not actually hitting it. The step was the usual one with many 
half turns and performed clockwise. Handuna now invoked 
Bilindi Yaka (Chapter X, invocation No. xvill) and soon he 
fell back and was supported for a few seconds, but revived 
almost immediately, when he became possessed by Bilindi 
Yaka. An axe was given him by one of the Veddas with which 
he hit the coconut so as to split it, letting the water pour out on 
the ground. Then with a half coconut in each hand he danced 
up to Vela shouting " Houh! houh!" and held the nuts against 
his chest while with head bent and body swaying he said, 
" You have offered me coconut, and I have come, why did you 
call me?" For coconut, instead of the usual word pol he used 
sudii ewa, literally "the white one" or "the white thing." Again 
he danced round the pot and bent his head low over it, in this 
way showing his satisfaction with the offering. Whilst he 
continued to dance Vela and Kaira made the coconut milk, 
putting the remains of the flesh of the nut on the pots of rice 
which had been placed on the inacsa. Handuna now took the 
arrow blade from the kirikoraha and danced with it, holding its 
ends in either hand and twirling it round between his fingers; 
taking it in his right hand, he stabbed sharply at the pot as 
he danced round it, taking care, however, nevjr to hit the pot. 
He dipped the arrow into the pot and examined the milk on the 


blade, then scattered it to show that he was pleased, shouting 
several times Has Bilindil Has B Hindi! to which Kaira always 
answered divas or " Lord." He danced again, stretching alter- 
nately his right and left arms, and about this time Bilindi 
Yaka left and Kande Yaka entered him without any outward 
signs, so that we did not recognise the change which had taken 
place until presently he danced round the kirikoraha with one 
arm extended and holding the arrow blade by its centre. We 
were told that he was possessed by Kande Yaka, who in his 
person performed the traditional pantomime of tracking the 
sambar by its slots, pointing at them with the arrow. This 
scene was not acted so thoroughly as it was at Bendiyagalge. 
Handuna picked up a i&\N leaves and held them across the 
arrow to represent a bow whilst he crouched in a position ready 
to shoot ; then, dipping his hand in the kirikoraha he dropped 
some milk on the leaves and got up and danced. Filling 
the palms of his hands with the milk he went to Kaira and 
said: "The sambar you shall shoot shall bleed like this milk 
dripping." Coming to one of us he placed one arm on his 
shoulder, holding a betel leaf moist with milk in the other out- 
stretched hand, and prophesied sambar to the bow of Kaira., 
With head slightly thrown back and rapt expression he told of 
Indigollae and the seven pots of blood — and now it seemed 
that Kande Yaka went and Indigollae Yaka came\ Before 
going back to the kirikoraha Handuna gave one of us (C.G.S.) a 
betel leaf as a sign of favour, and then taking another from the 
kirikoraha he allowed some milk to drip over it before he let it 
fall to the ground. Then with the arrow head he made two 
slits in the leaf not quite extending to the base, and again 
dipped it in the milk. Next he went to Vela and passed the 
slit leaf slowly over his head and finally slapped it on his chest. 
He did the same thing to Kaira with an uncut leaf, and it was 
noted that when the leaves fell to the ground off the men's 
chests they were picked up carefully and put in the kirikoraJia. 
The cuts in the leaf denoted that the sambar promised to Vela 
would be horned. The manner in which the leaf falls is also 
considered prophetic ; when, as in this case, it falls with its 
^ His invocation is given in Chapter x, No. xxxn. 
S. v. 15 


under surface upwards, the quarry will take long to kill; if, on 
the other hand, the leaf fall with its upper surface upwards, 
death will be speedy. 

After this Handuna again danced round the kirikoraha, 
holding the arrow in it, and showed his favour to each of the 
male onlookers by passing a milky betel leaf over their heads 
and placing it on their chests. This was repeated several 
times alternating with dances and quiverings over the pot 
before Handuna finally shook his head over the pot and fell 
back with a shout, the yaka having left him. 

Now Indigollae Yakini, the wife of Indigollae Yaka, was 
invoked, and we were told that Kaira who performed this dance 
would have worn beads on his wrists had he possessed them. 
He danced in the usual way round the kirikoraha with the 
arrow head which transfixed a betel leaf in one hand, when 
suddenly dropping his head over the kirikoraJia he shouted 
and apparently became possessed by the yakini. Gasping and 
shaking he went to both Handuna and Vela and put milky 
betel leaves on their chests, and spoke to them, raising his arms 
alternately and shuffling his feet. He returned to the pot and 
danced, stretching his arms and then crossing them across his 
body as he would have done had he been holding a couple of 
aude, swaying his body and moving vigorously. Several times 
he bent over the kirikoraha and each time leapt back with a 
shout and danced again. At last Handuna pointed to the 
offering of rice on the inaesa, which he approached and inspected 
while gasping and shaking, then evidently satisfied with this he 
sprang forward to the kirikoraJia, dropped his head over it and 
fell back exhausted, but no longer possessed by ^x\y yaka. 

The Kirikoraha at Uniche. The kirikoraJia performed at 
Maha Oya by Wannaku of Uniche seemed to be intermediate 
between the ceremony of the wilder Veddas where the original 
idea, namely Kande Yaka tracking the elk, was the dominant 
feature, and that danced by the village Veddas at Unuwatura 
Bubula v/here this motif was omitted. 

A maesa was built (though not elaborated into a buhityaJiana 
as at Unuwatura Bubula), a white cloth was laid over it and 
betel leaves, areca nuts, bananas, coconuts, and two pots of 


cooked rice were placed on it, as well as the kirikoraha itself 
containing the coconut milk, in which two atide had been 
placed. All these offerings were then covered with a red cloth, 
the red colour being said to be necessary. 

Before describing the dance it must be explained that the 
U niche Veddas had come to Maha Oya, some twenty- four 
miles from their home, and the shaman had not brought his 
aude with him, so we offered to lend him two, a small one we 
had collected at Unuwatura Bubula, and a particularly fine 
one lent to us by Tissahami, the Vedda Arachi, the Sinhalese 
headman already referred to, who in his youth had lived a 
great deal among Veddas, and from whom he had received the 
aude. This aude, evidently an old one, pleased Wannaku 
greatly and he exclaimed with joy: " This is indeed an aude for 
Kande Yaka^" We did not tell him whence we had obtained 
them, but he seemed impressed that a white man should possess 
such a good Vedda atide. 

Wannaku put on the hangala and salaamed to the maesa. 
and whilst the drum was beaten sang the invocation given in 
Chapter X, No. xxii, to Bilindi Yaka. He danced in front of 
the maesa facing east, slowly at first, but gradually he began to 
sway his body more rapidly and with greater vigour and soon 
became possessed by Bilindi Yaka. The shaman now picked 
up the large aiide and, after dancing with it in his hands for a 
few seconds, flung it from him to the ground with disgust, 
exclaiming angrily: "This is not my arrow, this has been used 
by a Sinhalese." Someone handed him the small aude and he 
seemed satisfied and danced with this. Of course it was quite 
possible for Wannaku t^' have discovered the history of the aude 
from our servants or from the villagers, or it may even have 
been mentioned quite casually in conversation with them and 
not have made much impression on him at the time, but 
flashing into consciousness in the excitement of the dance it 
may have appeared an important and till then unknowm fact. 
On questioning Wannaku after the dance he denied any 
previous knowledge but said quite simply that he was possessed 

'^ However, when the dance took place the next day he used this aude when 
invoking Bilindi Yaka. 



by Bilindi Yaka and " as a man knows his own betel pouch so 
BiHndi Yaka would know his own aude." 

The shaman bent his head over the kirikoraha and in- 
spected it, then putting his hand into it he scattered the milk 
on the ground two or three times, before filling his palm with 
milk and letting it fall over the aiide, in this way testing 
the quality of the offering. With the arrow in one hand he 
stood in front of the maesa shaking and shouting. Now he 
took a betel leaf from the kirikoraha, fixed it on the point of 
the aude and as a sign of favour put this on an old Vedda's 
chest, asking at the same time why he had been invoked: 
" Is anyone sick ? " The old man replied that no one was ill, 
they had merely called him to take the offerings on the maesa. 
So the yaka was pleased and with rapt expression the shaman 
danced, and again dripped milk over the aiide, saying at the 
same time that he must go. He repeated this several times, 
all the while quivering and gasping and saying that now he 
would leave, but before finally departing the spirit again showed 
favour to the old Vedda, influencing the shaman to put a milky 
betel leaf on his chest ; then the shaman leapt back suddenly and 
Xh'Q. yaka left him. 

After a short interval the shaman danced again and soon 
became possessed by Kande Yaka, whom he called by the 
invocation No. XVII ; soon he made signs that he wanted some- 
thing, when the Veddas understood that he lacked a second 
aude, and not having another, one of the Veddas gave him a 
knife, which the shaman preferred to the rejected aiide. He 
held the ande and the knife crosswise, these now representing 
the bow and arrow of Kande Yaka, and dancing wildly the 
shaman feigned to test the imaginary bow, then leaning both 
arms on the maesa he shivered and shook, at the same time 
declaring that the bow was a strong and good one. Again 
holding the arrow blade and knife like a bow and arrow he 
followed the track of an imaginary sambar for a few yards; he 
pointed to a spot on the ground and said the next kirikoraha 
should be built there. Then taking some milk from the 
kirikoraha he let some fall on the arrow and spilled some on the 
ground, and we were told that this represented Kande Wanniya 


drinking after the kill. After a little more dancing the shaman 
fell back into the arms of his supporter and the spirit left him. 

The Kirikoraha at Unuwatura Bubula. When dancing 
to Kande Yaka at Unuwatura Bubula the Veddas made a 
biilatyaJiana(?\2iXQ. XXXV); this, we were told, would be builtwhen 
invoking v^dcciy yaka, but the kirikoraha would never be danced 
without it. The bidatyahana seemed to be an elaborated maesa 
with the framework carried up to form a back and slanting roof 
over which a cloth, specially kept for this purpose, was hung 
and fastened down. On the shelf of the biilatyaJiana two aude 
and a trident of the ordinary Hindu pattern were placed 
together with betel leaves and areca nut. The kirikoraJia 
containing coconut milk and betel leaves stood on a rice-mortar 
beside it and a pot of cooked rice was put on the ground. 

The shaman danced in front of the bidatyahana holding in 
his hands a new piece of cloth (a. coloured handkerchief which 
we gave him) specially obtained for the purpose. He swayed 
his body and raised the cloth to his head while lifting his feet 
and patting the ground alternately with his right and left foot, 
but not moving from the front of the bidatyahana, that is to say 
confining his dancing to a space three or four feet long. He 
exchanged the handkerchief for the trident and placing a betel 
leaf on the point he danced with this and soon became possessed 
by Kande Yaka. Putting his hands into the kirikoraha, he 
examined the milk and expressed his satisfaction by shouting 
and clapping his hands. Again he danced to and fro in front 
of the bidatyahana with the trident in his hand. The kirikoraha 
was taken off the rice-mortar and put on the bidatyahana, 
and the pot of cooked rice was put in its place on the rice- 

The dancer then approached a sick shaman who, as men- 
tioned on p. 263, had coughed up a considerable amount of 
blood at the end of the alutyakagama ceremony performed 
previously, and fed him with some rice which he brought to 
him in a betel leaf. In this way Kande Yaka showed his 
benevolence towards the sick man, for it was considered that 
the yaka food would cure him. Returning to the bidatyahana 
the shaman quivered and shook his head and examined the 


rice, then he came to us and in the usual agitated manner of 
one possessed by the yaku said that he had come because we 
had asked for him. After some more dancing a little longer in 
front of the bidatyaJiaiia and after much bending and shaking 
over it and the rice pot the yaka of Kande Wanniya left the 
shaman and the ceremony ended. 

Nae Yaku Ceremonies. 

The large part the Nae Yaku play in the life of the Veddas 
and the great deference paid to them have been treated in the 
chapters on religion. We witnessed two Nae Yaku ceremonies 
which took place at Sitala Wanniya and Bandaraduwa respec- 
tively. The Bandaraduwa ceremony was performed on the 
seventh day after the death of the individual whose spirit was 
invoked, and we were allowed to prepare a dancing ground 
in the jungle, where it seemed that a tolerably good series of 
photographs might be obtained. However, the Veddas were 
obviously apprehensive of the spirit of the deceased until the 
ceremony had taken place, and insisted on performing it early 
in the morning with the result that the photographs obtained 
were all underexposed. We have however thought it best to 
publish a number of these without retouching them, an excep- 
tion being made in the case of the two photographs reproduced 
in Plates XXXVI, fig. 2, and XXX VI II, fig. i, the value 
of which do not depend on the facial expression of the per- 
formers while they were so underexposed that all detail would 
have been lost in a reproduction. 

The ceremony performed at Sitala Wanniya was danced 
expressly because we wished to see it, but Handuna, the most 
important man in this community, was delighted when we 
suggested that they should dance to the Nae Yaku, because he 
said it would please the yaku, for when alone the community 
could seldom provide such good things to offer them as we 
promised to give. 

Nae Yaku Ceremony at Sitala Wanniya. Although 
the Sitala Wanniya Veddas told us that the Nae Yaku could 
not come without Kande Yaka, Kande Yaka was not invoked at 

Plate XXXV 

Fig. I. Kirikoraha ceremony, the bulatyahana (Unuwatura Bubula) 

Fig. 2. Kirikoraha ceremony, the shaman before the bulatyahana 

(Unuwatura Bubula) 


the Nae Vaku ceremony that they performed for our benefit ; 
the spirits of certain named relatives being called upon imme- 
diately. This may have been an omission caused by the 
ceremony having been begun in the spirit of a rehearsal (though 
it was certainly continued in earnest), but it seems more pro- 
bable to us that this was not a mistake, as it was clearly stated 
that when a Nae Yaka is invoked for the first time after a death 
Kande Yaka is called upon at the beginning of the ceremony to 
bring the new yaka. The two yaku invoked at this ceremony 
were remembered by the community as influential men, and had 
probably been invoked frequently, and thus though still looked 
upon as attendants of Kande Yaka in a general way, they had 
probably gained a certain independence. Two pots of rice were 
cooked with coconut milk and placed on the niaesa which was 
already in existence, having been built for one of the other 
dances, and an earthenware bowl of coconut milk was supported 
on a stake driven into the ground in the centre of the dancing 
plot. This bowl, the kirikoraJia, was filled with coconut milk, 
and betel leaves were put in it. Kaira put on a hangalla, and 
held a piece of cloth in his hands. It was decided that the 
father-in-law of Handuna should be called, therefore an invoca- 
tion was sung to him, and Kaira danced with the piece of cloth in 
his hand holding it at times over his head, and soon began to shout 
and leap showing that he was possessed. He went to Handuna, 
shouted and waved his cloth before him, and he too fell back 
and became possessed. There seemed to be no doubt that both 
Handuna and Kaira were considered to be possessed by the same 
yaka, i.e. by the spirit of the former's father-in-law Tuta Gamarale. 
Both bent their heads low over the kirikoraha and inspected 
the milk, then examined the offering of cooked rice, and re- 
turned to the kirikoraha quivering and gasping, and scattered 
some of the milk as a sign of pleasure. Then Kaira spoke 
to Vela in the low gasping voice of the yaka and stretched his 
arms towards Vela's child, who was suffering from yaws, and 
covered both the child and its mother with his cloth. He treated 
the other children in the same way, and also sprinkled coconut 
milk on their heads, and in the hurried yaka manner of one 
possessed smeared their faces with the milk, and we were told 


that this was the manner in which the yaka of Tuta Gamarale 
usually showed favour to his grandchildren. Handuna and 
Kaira both returned to the kirikoraha, and shivering and 
quaking they bent their heads over it, shaking their hair over 
their faces, then both danced wildly (Handuna with an arrow in 
his hand), scattering the milk about, in this way showing their 
satisfaction with the offerings prepared for them. Both Handuna 
and Kaira went to several of the Vedda onlookers, and waving 
their cloths promised luck in hunting or favour of some kind. 
Then coming to each of us, they said while shuffling their feet 
and shaking their cloths " My grandchildren called me to help 
them, now you are here too, do you help them also." After 
feeding some of the small children with coconut milk they both 
returned to the kirikoraha and bent their heads low over it, crying, 
" Oh," and fell back, and the yaka of Tuta Gamarale left 

A good deal of discussion followed among the Veddas, as 
many considered that the father of Handuna should be invoked, 
but all declared they were too tired to dance. At last Handuna 
prevailed upon his son-in-law Kaira to dance, explaining to us 
that they seldom had such good food as that which they were 
able to offer to-day and it pleased the yahc greatly, so his father 
should be called to share it. 

So Kaira took the handkerchief and danced again, soon 
becoming possessed by Huda the father of Handuna. After 
showing favour to the progeny of Huda as before by holding 
the cloth over their heads he fell supine into the arms of Vela 
and it seemed as if the yaka was about to depart. Some of the 
men and boys began immediately to repeat the invocation to 
prevent this from happening, and after some seconds of immo- 
bility Kaira began to tremble slightly, and raised his right hand 
limply, let it fall again, and once more became inert. Then 
all joined vigorously in the invocation, and the wife of Kaira 
smeared his face with coconut milk, and with the aid of a leaf- 
cone fed him with the milk, that is to say, she managed to convey 
a few drops into his mouth, but still he remained unmoved. As 
this was ineffectual several of the grandchildren of the man 
whose spirit possessed Kaira fed the latter in the same way ; 


Vela did so also, with the result that Kaira dropped his head 
forward, shook violently and nodded his head sideways in 
a clumsy drunken fashion, and in a few seconds, still supported, 
jerked his limbs forwards and moved to the offering, after which 
he came back to where the women were standing and fell again 
into the arms of Vela. His chin was thrown back and his 
whole body trembled, while he gasped a word or two oc- 
casionally and fanned himself with his cloth vigorously. He 
held the cloth over the child suffering from yaws and promised 
to cure him, then putting both hands on Handuna he let his 
head fall on the latter's chest, and while trembling and shuffling 
his feet asked how Handuna fared. Handuna replied that game 
was scarce, and Kaira then spoke to the wife of Handuna and 
again to Handuna, and promised help. Then leaving Handuna 
he danced with wild leaping steps round the kirikoralia and 
gasped that now he must go and so leapt to the viaesa, 
bent his head over the offering, and fell back exhausted. But he 
soon began to dance again, twirling the arrow blade between his 
fingers, till after a short time he returned to the niaesa, and again 
bent his head over the offering ; then with a great shout he took 
the pot of rice in both hands and spun it on the ground, and as 
he did so the yaka left him and he fell back. 

Spinning the pot had the same significance here as at 
Henebedda, the direction towards which the pot dipped showing 
where game would be found. In this instance the pot was so 
full of rice that it did not dip at all, but this was considered 
a good omen as game might be expected on all sides. 

After all was over Handuna took an arrow, and standing by 
the viaesa pointed the arrow to the pots, and called upon all 
the Nae Yakii to feed. The pots were soon removed, the rice 
they contained was eaten, and the betel leaves from the kiri- 
koraJia chewed, but the milk in the kirikoraha was poured over a 
heap of twigs laid on the ground, being thus devoted to theyaku. 

Nae Yaku ceremony at Bandaraduwa. Some account 
has already been given in Chapter II of the abnormal conditions 
prevailing at Bandaraduwa, so it will only be necessary to touch 
lightly upon this subject here. Some twenty years back these 
Kovil Vanamai Veddas, of whom the Bandaraduwa Veddas 


are the remains, lived much the same life as the Henebedda 
Veddas now live, and like them were in transition between 
a purely hunting, honey-collecting life and the settled condition 
of the village Veddas who are mainly dependent on their chena 
produce. When we visited Bandaraduwa the Veddas were in 
a sorry condition and had settled down among the Sinhalese. 
It is true they dwelt in separate huts, but they were built on the 
same chena which had been allotted by the Government to 
them all, and like the Sinhalese they were paying taxes^ 
Naturally living in such close contact with the Sinhalese they 
have been influenced by them, and intermarriage has taken 
place, so that in many cases the Vedda identity has been lost. 
However, those of them who still considered themselves Veddas 
have retained a number of their old songs and many of their old 
customs, as comparison with the uncontaminated Sitala Wanniya 
Veddas showed. But even these customs, though Vedda at 
root, had been largely coloured and often overlaid by Sinhalese 
beliefs, so that when a death occurred not only was it necessary 
to make offering to the new Nae Yaka but it was equally 
important to propitiate the nearest Buddhist priest. 

A kirikoraha was prepared in the usual way, and betel 
leaves put in it as well as the coconut milk. The shaman 
Tissahami, wearing a hangala, placed two aiide on the kirikoraha 
and salaamed to the bowl. (Plate XXXVI, fig. i.) Then he 
began to dance in the usual manner to the accompaniment of 
a drum played by a Vedda lad, first holding one aiide and then 
one in each hand, that in the right hand being for Kande Yaka 
and that in the left for the yaka of the deceased Tuta. The 
use of the drum, which was of Sinhalese manufacture, must be 
regarded as an innovation, for although these people used them, 
and the Bendiyagalge people said they would if they had them, 
the Sitala Wanniya Veddas declared that true Veddas never 
possessed or used a drum^. 

^ It must be remembered that about sixty years ago Bailey, a Government official, 
encouraged the Veddas of Nilgala to make chena and since then the custom has spread. 
Sixty years ago these Veddas, and in fact all except the long established coast and 
village Veddas, must have lived a life very little different from that of the Sitala 
Wanniya group of to-day. 

- The readiness with which this community accepted an innovation was demonstrated 

Plate XXXVI 

Fig. I. Nae Yaku ceremony, the shaman salaams to the offering 


Fig. 2. Nae Yaku ceremony, the shaman pretends to stab the offering 

( Bandaraduwa) '' 


Fig. I. Nae Yaku ceremony, the shaman possessed falls into the arms 
of a supporter (Bandaraduwa) 

Fig. 2. Nae Yaku ceremony, the shaman sprinkles milk from the offering 
on the brothers of the deceased (Bandaraduwa) 

Plate XXXVI 11 

Fig. I. Nae Yaku ceremony, the shaman possessed by Kande Yaka 
tracks the sambar (Bandaraduwa)* 

Fig. 2. Nae Yaku ceremony, the brother of the deceased falls back 
possessed (Bandaraduwa) 


At the same time an invocation was sung, presumably to 
Kande Yaka and the Nae Yaka, but our notes are not quite clear 
about this ; it was however certain that Kande Yaka, Bilindi 
Yaka and the Nae Yaka all came, indeed that the last was 
unable to come without Kande Yaka, but it was not clear when 
each yaka came and went, and it seemed quite possible for the 
shaman to be possessed by ^q.vqx2X yakii at once. 

As the shaman danced he stabbed at the kirikoraha with 
both the aiide (Plate XXXVI, fig. 2), in this way the Nae Yaka 
by whom he was possessed was pleased to show his power. 
Sometimes as Tissahami made the usual half turn on his heels 
he held the aude against his hips pointed end outwards. Soon 
he began to quiver and bend his head forward, and was imme- 
diately supported by one of the onlookers, into whose arms 
he fell back (Plate XXX Vll, fig. i). After lying still for a few 
seconds he revived and began to dance wildly, stabbing the 
aiide in the air ; this was in order to frighten people, for although 
the feeling of the Nae Yaka towards his living relatives was 
friendly, provided always that he had been well treated by them 
and had been offered sufficient rice, coconut milk and betel 
leaves, the yaka was not averse to showing his newly acquired 
power. After this, in order to show his favour to his relatives 
the shaman went to both the brothers of the dead man in turn 
and sprinkled them with coconut milk from the kirikoraha 
(Plate XXXVII, fig. 2), he put his arms on their shoulders and 
promised them luck in hunting, and taking two betel leaves from 
the kirikoraha he put one on the chest of each man, and the 
leaves being wet with the milk stayed where they were placed 
for a short time. Suddenly leaping away the shaman, now 
apparently possessed by Kande Yaka and probably with the 
spirit of the Nae Yaka still within him, tracked an imaginary 
sambar round the dancing ground, holding the two aude cross- 
wise to represent a bow and arrow. This is shown in Plate 
XXXVIII, fig. I, which also shows the betel leaves on the chest 

by the shaman who wanted to wear Sinhalese leggings with bells, although he said 
these had not been worn before in a Vedda ceremony. The leglets, which he greatly 
admired, had been worn by a peasant Sinhalese at a devil ceremony which had been 
held two days before at a village a few miles distant. 


of each of the two brothers of the deceased. The shaman made 
no feint to shoot but soon put the aude on the kirikoraha, and 
taking a pot of rice which had been prepared twirled it vigorously 
in his hands, and though this may have represented Kande 
Wanniya spinning the rice pot for prophecy, the shaman put the 
pot down without actually spinning it. Supported by one of 
the Veddas he again danced round the kirikoraha and swayed 
his body violently; at times he would spring suddenly to one 
side stabbing fiercely at the air, after which (bending over the 
kirikoraha) he fell back and remained perfectly still with rapt 
expression and head slightly bent, one hand resting on the 
edge of the milk pot. It seemed as though the Yaka was 
about to leave the shaman, but as the relatives did not desire 
this (perhaps because the Yaka had not yet fed them as a sign 
of greater favour) they all sang the invocation together. The 
Yaka heard them, for suddenly the shaman began to tremble, 
the trembling grew to a vigorous shaking, and he sprang forward 
and again bent his head over the kirikoraha ; then with body 
bent and head drooping he moved a little way, taking short 
leaping steps, and again fell back exhausted. But he soon 
revived and took the atide and approached the dead man's 
brothers in turn, who both became possessed by the Nae Yaka 
and fell back. Then the shaman smeared their bodies with 
coconut milk, throwing some into their mouths, and they soon 
showed signs of life again. Plate XXX VII I, fig. 2, and 
Plate XXXIX, fig, i, show the two brothers of the deceased 
possessed by the Nae Yaka ; in the latter figure the body of 
the unconscious man has been smeared with the contents of the 
kirikoraJui, while the remains of that with which he had been fed 
hangs about his mouth and chin. It will be observed that in 
both these figures the supporters are Sinhalese ; this was because 
there were not enough grown Vedda men in the community to 
support the men possessed by Yaku. All this time the invoca- 
tion was being repeated by one of the youngest Veddas present, 
who we were told was the dead man's sister's son, that is the 
dead man's potential son-in-law. The shaman now fed the dead 
man's brothers with rice from the offering, and then fell ex- 
hausted to the ground. One of the onlookers immediately came 

Plate XXXIX 

Fig. I. Nae Yaku ceremony, the other brother of the deceased is also 

possessed (Bandaraduwa) 

Fig. 2. Nae Yaku ceremony, the shaman possessed by the Nae Yaka 
embraces the brothers of the deceased (Bandaraduwa) 

Plate XL 

Fig. I. Nae Yaku ceremony, the Nae Yaka shows his power ( Bandaraduwa) 

Fig. 2. Nae Yaku ceremony, the shaman feeds the members of the 
community (Bandaraduwa) 


to his assistance when he began to quiver and sway, then 
moved and put both arms round one of the dead man's brothers 
as a sign of kindness from the deceased. (Plate XXXIX, 
fig. 2.) The brothers said: " It was good of you to come. See 
we have given you food, now do not come back again," and the 
yaka agreed. The shaman then took the aiide and transfixed 
a betel leaf with each and danced and again showed favour to 
the relatives by giving them each another betel leaf, after which 
one of the relatives danced, but the shaman threatened to stab 
with the aiide the men who were not relatives of the dead man. 
(Plate XL, fig. I.) Soon both the shaman and the two brothers 
fell back and the Yaka departed from them. When the shaman 
revived, he bent his head over the kirikoraJia as a sign of respect ; 
then holding both hands over the rice pot he repeated a silent 
charm, asking any of the other yah( who might have come to the 
ceremony to depart peacefully. After this he fed each relative 
of the dead man, holding the kirikoraha to their mouths, as is 
shown in Plate XL, fig. 2. 

The Invocation of Bambura Yaka. 

The Veddas invoke Bambura Yaka for help in getting pig 
and yams, both staple foods, the latter being an extremely im- 
portant element in their diet. The dance is pantomimic, and 
depicts a boar hunt in which Bambura, the boar-hunting hero, 
was aided by a Vedda woman, who killed the pig with an 
arrow she shot from her husband's bow and whose spirit is 
therefore called Dunne Yakini (Bow Spirit), while the spirit 
of this woman's husband who turned the boar with his yam 
stick {iile) has become Ule Yaka, that is (Yam-stick Spirit). 
This ceremony, though not so widely spread, is as dramatic as 
that in which Kande Yaka stalks and kills sambar deer. We 
saw it danced by Kaira of Sitala Wanniya and by Wannaku of 

The invocation of Bambura Yaka at Sitala Wanniya. 
The dance at Sitala Wanniya will be described first, since the 
story was told us here in its more complete form. Once long 
ago many Vedda men and women went out in search of yams, 


and they took their dogs with them. While all were busy 
digging yams, the dogs strayed in the jungle and soon put up 
a boar, to which they gave chase, giving tongue. The men 
hearing the dogs followed them and soon came up with the boar 
at bay, which immediately charged them. None of the men 
could kill the boar, but a woman, whose spirit afterwards became 
Dunne Yakini, picked up a bow and arrow and killed the boar 
with the help of her husband Ule Yaka and his brother, who 
became Kuda Ule Yaka, i.e. Little Yam-stick Yaka. Although 
Bambura Yaka takes no part in the story as it was told us, he is 
the importSLnt faka of the ceremony ; it is he who is especially 
invoked, Dunne Yakini, her husband and brother-in-law coming 
in as his attendants, as do a varying number of other j/aku, pre- 
sumably the spirits of those who joined in the boar hunt^ 

During the dance Bambura Yaka and all his attendants 
were present, so that it was not at all clear which part of the 
dance represented the actions of Bambura Yaka himself, since 
after the first complete possession yaku entered and departed 
from the shaman without any obvious signs. But we were told 
after the dance that Bambura was returning to his cave at 
Lewangala carrying yams and a couple of the large monitor 
lizards when he came across the hunt. 

The properties for this dance are rather complicated and 
were carefully prepared on the dancing ground, all the men 
helping in the work and charms being sung the while. The 
necessary sticks were cut and two flat reddish stones found by 
a stream were placed below the maesa which was built with 
a double platform, a bundle of grass, leaves and twigs bound 
together to represent the boar being suspended from the lower 
platform. The stones were called Kuda Lewangala and Maha 
Lewangala respectively, and represented the red rocks or rocky 
hills of Lewangala, the unknown land in which Bambura lived 
and which is still the chief abiding place of his yaka. The 
majority of these properties are well seen in Plate XLIV, fig. i. 

1 We may here refer to a matter we discuss at greater length in Chapter X. It is 
certain that the invocations (Nos. xxvii and xxvni) used at the Bambura Yaka 
ceremony and specially addressed to Bambura, which were only partially understood 
by those who sang them, originally applied to honey collecting. 


On the stones Handuna and Kaira mixed their pigments, lime, 
turmeric, water and charcoal, while all chanting together they 
decorated with spots and bars the various sticks which were 
to form the bows, arrows, yam sticks and carrying sticks sacred 
to the yahi who were soon to be invoked ^ 

As already stated the boar was suspended below the maesa 
by a creeper, and another creeper fastened to the " boar " was 
held by a small boy who stood a little back in the bush. 

The objects prepared for the Bambura Yaka dance at Sitala 
Wanniya were as follows : 

(i) The mulpola itiya ; the meaning of these words is 
doubtful, though itiya was said to signify an ancient weapon. 
This was said to be for the use of Mulpola Itiya Yaka, and is 
a rough stick about 5 feet 6 in. long (figure 9^) pointed at one 
end, above which the bark is shaved off for about 6 in., which part 
was decorated with bars of red and black pigment. This was 
said to be a yam stick, and it was explained that because of this 
the bark was not peeled except at the point, for a man would 
cut any stick in the jungle and dig up yams with it. 

(ii) The ule (figure 9 b) or ceremonial arrow belonging to the 
Yaka is a peeled stick about 6 feet long, pointed at one end and 
decorated with rings of red and black pigment. Three pieces of 
bast are tied to the upper end, a few inches from the top, to 
represent the feathers of an arrow. 

(iii) The harimitiya is a stout stick about 3 feet 6 in. 
long, decorated with rings of red and black pigment, and was 
used by Bambura Yaka as a staff. 

(iv) The haelapeta (figure 9 r) is a peeled stick nearly 
6 feet long, spatulate at one end and decorated with bars of red 
and black in the manner indicated in the drawing. 

(v) The ran kadiiwa (literally " golden sword ") is similar 
to the haelapeta, and totally unlike the ran kaduwa used in the 
Rahu Yaku ceremony and figured on p. 256. 

(vi) The bow of the Dunne Yakini has the bark stripped 
from the outer surfaces only, and is decorated with spots of red 

1 On asking the reason for this ornamentation of the properties we were told that 
the yaku would be pleased when they saw the decorations, for the spots of pigment 
represented the flowers of Lewangala. 



{a) (d) {c) 

Fig. 9. Some of the objects used in the Bambura Yaka ceremony. 
{a) Mtdpola itiya x y\. (b) Ule x ^. {c) Haelapeta x xV- 


and black pigment. It closely resembled that used in the 
Bambura Yaka ceremony at Uniche. 

(vii) The tadiya is well seen in Plate XLI, fig. i. It is 
a short stout stick, and represents a carrying stick ox pingo which 
is used throughout Ceylon ; however, it was quite unlike one, 
as these are long and springy and resemble a bow ; moreover, 
Veddas usually unstring their bows and use them as carrying 

(viii) The nimiti or book (explained as book of omens, 
and said to be borrowed from Sinhalese ceremonies) was made 
of a couple of broad strips of bark in imitation of the ola books 
used in Ceylon ^ 

The Jiaelapeta and ran kadnwa were said to belong to 
Devatayo of those names, but nothing was known about them. 
Devatayo or Dewa are Sinhalese spirits distinct from the yaku 
according to Sinhalese beliefs, but Handuna, our best informant 
at Sitala Wanniya, said Devatayo were the same as yaku. 
Obviously they had been introduced and assimilated to the 
Vedda yaku. 

After all the sticks had been painted some cooked yams 
were tied up in leaves and bound to one end of the tadiya, and 
some wisps of grass were tied to the other to represent monitor 
lizards (Plate XLI, fig. i), the whole was then put on the lower 
stage of the inaesa with cooked yams for all the yaku, while 
a portion of yams was placed on the upper stage for Koriminaala 
Yaka, but no reason could be discovered why his food was kept 
apart from the rest. The dance began by Handuna singing an 
invocation (No. xxix) to Mulpola Itiya Yaka, and Kaira, who 
wore a hangala, held the mulpola itiya in his right hand, letting 
the decorated end rest in his left, then he danced slowly round 
and round in front of the 7/zrt'^j-rt facing east, the direction whence 
the boar of the story came. The nitdpola itiya was soon changed 
for the ran kaduzva, and now Kaira made long leaping steps, 
widening his circle as he moved in front of the inaesa and 

^ The nimiti omen or book is perhaps the most curious of all the properties. 
It was said that Bambura Yaka could read and write, and that he was the only Yaka 
who had these accomplishments, though nothing was known as to how he had learned 
them. But certainly this part of the ritual was old and must be the result of quite 
ancient contact with a Buddhistic people. 

S. V, 16 


turning the stick over in his hand. At this time he became 
possessed by Ule Yaka, and after dancing in a circle for a few 
minutes he began to leap to and fro in front of the maesa and 
thrust at the ground with his stick, at the same time warning 
\\\Q. yaku that the boar he was hunting was very dangerous and 
that they must be prepared to help him should it charge him. 
Then he approached Handuna and one of us, saying "The boar 
is very fierce but I will kill it." Again he went to Handuna 
and laid the ran kadiiwa across the latter's chest and held it to 
him with both arms and repeated his boast of killing the boar, 
but he also begged for assistance if he should meet with an 
accident. He again leapt to and fro beating his sides, and, 
taking the tadiya from the maesa, held it first on his shoulder 
then behind his head and brandished it in the air so that 
Bambura Yaka might see the good things attached to it, and if 
he were pleased with the offering he too might come to assist 
Ule Yaka if the boar should attack him. Then taking Vela by 
the hand, he spoke to him quietly and pointed as though 
he saw the boar, and crouching, he stepped forward noiselessly, 
but again sprang back and danced with the ule and tadiya, then 
putting the tadiya down, turned the tile over in his hands and 
danced with long leaping strides. Soon he left off dancing 
and merely bounded to and fro trying to thrust at the " boar " 
below the maesa, but the small boy holding the creeper attached 
to it pulled the " boar " away each time Kaira thrust at it. After 
a few attempts he came to each of us in turn, pressing the iile 
against our chests, and with head bent forward and taking short 
steps alternately to the right and left he spoke to us as 
though we were Bambura Yaka and said, " This boar is difficult 
to kill, grant that I may succeed." As he spoke he raised his 
hand and pointed. Then shouting iisi 2isi nam (the words with 
which dogs are put on a trail) he called the dogs (mentioned in 
the story) Sanjala, Bahira Pandi, Neti, and Kali, and went 
through the pantomime of laying them on the trail, gasping and 
panting the while and hitting his chest saying, " This is a fine 
big boar and I will kill it." Again he leapt to and fro and 
thrust at the " boar " without success, then with a great charge 
and a shout wounded the " boar " and fell back exhausted into 

Plate XL! 

Fig-. I. Bambura Yaka ceremony, preparing the tadiya (Sitala Wanniya)*" 

Fig. 2. The Bambura Yaka ceremony begins by Handuna singing an 
invocation (Sitala Wanniya)* 

Plate XLII 

Fig. I. Bambura Yaka ceremony, the boar wounds the hunter 

(Sitala Wanniya)* 

Fig. 2. Bambura Yaka ceremony, the boar is at length killed 

(Sitala Wanniya)* 

Plate XLIII 

Fig. I. Bambura Yaka ceremony, the bow of Dunne Yakini 
(Sitala Wanniya) ' 


Fig. 2. Bambura Yaka ceremony, Kaira dances with the tadiya 

(Sitala Wanniya)" 


the arms of his supporter. However, the " boar " was not yet 
dead and the yaka did not leave Kaira, who rested for a few 
seconds, and when he sprang forward with a shout and danced 
again and spoke to Handuna, saying, " I have succeeded in 
wounding the boar, now I will kill it" he was still possessed by 
Ule Yaka, Then the whole pantomime was repeated, the 
boasts, the attempts to kill the boar, and the laying of the dogs 
on the scent. At last the " boar " was wounded again, for 
a squeal was set up by the small boy who manipulated the 
creeper ; then with a final thrust the yaka killed it, and as 
the ule was carefully withdrawn the "boar" gave a long dying 
squeal. Then the yaka left Kaira. 

Soon Kaira began to dance again still holding the ule, and 
moving slowly at first but soon more energetically, and now he 
became possessed by Koriminaala Yaka. He danced as before, 
calling the dogs in the same way as when he was possessed by 
Ule Yaka and thrust at the boar in like m.anner, but this time 
the boar must have turned on him, as with a grunt " honk, honk," 
the boar swung forward and Kaira stumbled and then hobbled 
painfully supporting himself on the ule, his right leg dragging 
stiffly on the ground (Plate XLH, fig. i). 

The other men came forward and " medicined " the leg, that 
is, while one of them supported Kaira the other took a leaf and 
hurriedly wiped the limb from the back of the knee downwards. 
This evidently cured him, and he made another attempt to kill 
the boar, and was again wounded and again cured in the same 
way. Then he made one more charge, and the ule pierced the 
back of the " boar," wounding it mortally, and as Kaira fell back 
exhausted the Yaka left him (Plate XLH, fig. 2). As the z^/i? was 
extracted the dying boar again gave forth a last squeal. After 
a short rest the ceremonial bow prepared for Dunne Yakini 
was wrapped in a cloth, and Handuna knelt down and held it on 
his head with both hands while Kaira and Vela sang an invoca- 
tion almost certainly to Dunne Yakini, but unfortunately no 
note was taken of this (Plate XLH I, fig. i)^ Kaira salaamed 

^ There was some experimenting before Kaira took the bow ; the plate shows one 
of the younger members of the community holding it, but as he was not found satisfactor}' 
Handuna took it himself. 

16 2 


to the bow and said, " Behold this golden bow is brought, 
covered by a clean cloth," and taking it from Handuna proceeded 
to dance with it at first holding it behind his head, then bringing 
it forward unwrapped it, placed it on Handuna's shoulder, and 
spoke in the usual yaka voice. He again danced with the 
bow and tried the string, and expressed his pleasure by gasping 
and hitting his chest. Then he put it on the inaesa and fell 

Although we have no definite note it seems quite evident 
that at this time Kaira was possessed by Dunne Yakini. 

Kaira then danced with the hariinitiya taking the usual 
dance steps but supporting himself with the Jiarimitiya, and he 
soon became possessed by Bambura Yaka. One of the lads now 
held the tadiya, then Kaira made a mock search for it for some 
minutes before he took it from the child. He danced with it 
over his shoulder with body bent and the hariinitiya still in his 
hand (Plate XLHI, fig. 2). He thus enacted Bambura Yaka 
returning to the cave with good things on his tadiya, and he 
shouted as every Vedda does when within hearing of home. 
Seeing the children he seemed to threaten them with his 
stick, and they ran away laughing ; this was repeated several 
times. He tried to frighten the children away as he did not 
want them to see the food he had procured. Then he led Vela 
behind the inaesa, and pointing and speaking in a whisper with 
a great air of secrecy told him that if he went to a certain place 
where " there was high land by a stream " he should find a wild 
pig and kill it. For pig he used the yaka word hossa dikka, 
which apparently means "long snout." He led Handuna 
in the opposite direction, and speaking with like precaution 
promised that he should find and kill sambar, using the yaka 
name gowra inagalla. 

He took the book, spoke to Handuna and Vela, and next 
taking yams from the inaesa presented some to each of us 
and to all the Veddas present, for in this way Bambura Yaka 
showed his good will. All the time he was distributing the 
yams Kaira hurried, gasped, and trembled. Before Bambura 
Yaka left him Kaira hit the upper stage of the inaesa with the 
hariinitiya, and shouted " Hoi, hoi," to drive Koriminaala Yaka 


away. Then he fell back, Handuna took the tadiya, and the 
dance ended. 

All the properties of Bambura Yaka and his attendants were 
replaced on the inaesa and some water was sprinkled over them, 
this we were told being water for them to drink, for as no man 
eats without drinking afterwards, so the yaku require water to 
drink after food has been offered to them. 

Handuna repeated charms over them, saying, " We have 
given you food and treated you well ; if we have made any 
mistakes excuse us and do no harm to our families or ourselves." 
The whole ceremony was remarkable for the general feeling of 
cheerfulness and goodfellowship, jokes were frequently made, 
and obviously the Veddas had nothing to fear from the yaku in 
the ordinary course of events. 

The Bambura Yaka Ceremony at Uniche. The dance 
to Bambura Yaka performed by Wannaku of Uniche differed 
only very slightly from that performed at Sitala Wanniya, yet 
in order to show these differences it will be necessary to describe 
the dance in detail. Wannaku, who visited us at Maha Oya in 
the Eastern Province, told us that Bambura Yaka was some- 
times called Ala Yaka, i.e. Yam Yaka, as he helped men to 
find yams. 

A viaesa was built and leaves laid on it over which a white 
cloth "^ was laid, and on this yams, a coconut, and a pumpkin were 
placed, while some of the properties of the Bambura Yaka 
ceremony leaned against the viaesa. These objects consisted of 
a roughly made bow decorated with bars of red and black 
(figure 10 a), two ordinary arrows and two long sticks which 
represented the special arrows of the yaka. They are well seen 
in Plate XLIV, fig. i, leaning against the maesa ; a ring of bark 
is left at the top of each stick, and this is split to represent the 
feathers of an arrow, the peeled portion of both sticks being 
decorated with bars of red and yellow pigment. The upper 
ends of these sticks are pared down so as to represent two 
flattened surfaces as is shown in figure 10 b, which is drawn 

1 Among the Sinhalese and Tamils it is customary not only to hang a ceiling cloth 
but even to cover the walls, table and chairs with cloths when receiving an honoured 



Fig. 10. Ceremonial 
bow and arrow of Bam- 
bura Yaka. x y\-. 

to a scale of about one-tenth. Below the 
maesa, suspended by a creeper, is the 
welenmla, which is merely a bundle of 
leaves filled with sand to represent the 
wild boar. 

Wannaku, the shaman, put on a haiigala, 
and salaamed to the maesa, and then sang a 
curious invocation (No. xxvill), while a lad 
beat the drum. Wannaku now exhibited 
all the yaka properties, dancing with each 
in turn. Wannaku did not tell us the story 
of Bambura Yaka, and as our many ques- 
tions did not elicit it we may presume that 
he did not know it, so we did not find out 
whether all the properties belonged to 
Bambura Yaka or whether, as at Sitala 
Wanniya, which we visited afterwards, 
some belonged to his attendants. 

After a short time Wannaku bent his 
head over the maesa, shouted, let down his 
hair, and became possessed. He picked up 
each of the big yaka arrows in turn and 
danced with them shouting, and thus show- 
ing that he was pleased with them. Up to 
this time he had not danced round the 
maesa, only in front of it, that is, facing 
east towards Inginiyagala, the home of 

The shaman next took up the bow and 
arrow and danced wildly in all directions, 
pulling at the bowstring to see if it were 
strong enough, although he did not let 
fly. Being at last satisfied with his weapon 
he aimed at the %velemtcla and shot, and 
although he hit it he only wounded the 
" boar," so the shaman ccutinued to dance 
as though following the animal, but 
although he occasionally pulled hard on 

Plate XLIV 

Fig. I. Bambura Yaka ceremony, offerings and properties prepared for 
the ceremony by Wannaku of Uniche (Maha Oya) 


Fig, 2. Bambura Yaka ceremony, Wannaku kills the boar (Maha Oya)* 


the bowstring aiming in the air he did not loose his arrow. 
Soon he sh'pped down on one knee letting the other leg trail 
on the ground, and we were told that the wild boar had turned 
and charged him. Immediately one of the Vedda onlookers 
sprang forward and " medicined " the leg, that is to say, he 
wiped it down with a leaf as though he swept the pain from 
the leg to the earth, and the shaman, apparently cured, con- 
tinued to hunt. Three times he shot at the xvelenmla and hit 
it each time, then leaning back in the arms of his supporter 
he gasped : " I have shot the boar, now I am going." After 
more gasping and quivering he fell into his supporter's arms 
and the yaka left him. 

After the ceremony all the food was eaten except the 
pumpkin which was left to rot on the maesa. Wannaku told us 
that \.\\Q.yakii would come and eat this, getting under the maesa 
and sucking the goodness out of it ; the pumpkin would remain 
there and would look perfect, but should anyone cook it and try 
to eat it, he would find its substance was gone, so that it would 
be like trying to eat grass. As we asked to keep the bow and 
arrows, which would otherwise have been left to rot on the maesa, 
Wannaku sprinkled some water over them and muttered an 
explanation to the yaku before giving them to us. 

The Pata Yaku Ceremony. 

All Veddas recognise childbirth as a time of extreme pain 
and even danger to women, and the individuals of the Sitala 
Wanniya group invoke the aid of the yaku as soon as pregnancy 
is diagnosed \ A week before we arrived at Sitala Wanniya 
this ceremony had been held on behalf of Bevini, the wife of 
Vela, who did not appear to be at all far advanced in pregnancy. 
On the other hand, Mari, the wife of Pema, on whose account 
the Pata Yaku dance which we witnessed was performed, 
appeared to be quite six months pregnant. The delay had 
probably been caused only by the lack of the good things which 
it was necessary to offer to the yaku on these occasions, and 
both Pema and his father-in-law Nila seemed very gratified when 

1 We did not hear of this ceremony among the Veddas of any other group. 


we provided the rice and coconut necessary for the ceremony. 
This food is always eaten by the community after the yahi have 
inspected it. 

The j'aku invoked to ensure safety during pregnancy and 
childbirth are three in number and are called Pata (bark) Yaku. 
No story could be discovered concerning them, nor could any 
reason be elicited for the name Pata (bark) or the large quantity 
of bast which is used in the dance. This can be taken from any 
tree in the jungle, and is torn into strips about half-an-inch 
broad. It may, however, be suggested that these particular 
jya^u require the inner bark of trees as a resting-place just as the 
yaku invoked to come to the kolomadinva or ahityakagama 
come first to the leaves used in making these structures, and 
then may or may not enter the person of the shaman, while they 
may take refuge again in the leaves after they leave the shaman. 
In the instances cited the leafy structures were beaten with 
sticks after the ceremony to drive the yakii away ; this ritual was 
not observed in the Pata Yaku ceremony, but it must be 
remembered that only XhxQO. yaku were invoked and the shaman 
may have been thoroughly satisfied that they had gone away 
from the place, while, on the other hand, in the two other 
ceremonies we were told that hosts of attendant yakit rested 
amid the leaves, and that the more important spirits alone 
entered the persons of the dancers. 

The properties used in the Pata Yaku ceremony held for 
Mari at Sitala Wanniya were as follows : three stout posts, 
which were thrust into the ground in a line ; the tallest was 
about 2 ft 6 in. high and the shortest somewhat less than 2 ft, 
the upper ends of all being forked and large quantities of strips 
of bast lashed to them. These bast covered stakes are called 
the nsniukaliya^ inedaninkaliya and balakanua, i.e. the high, 
middle and young post respectively, and each one belongs to 
one of the Pata Yaku. The ivilakodiya or knde (umbrella), 
which belongs to all the Pata Yaku, is a similar bunch of bast 
strips tied to a rather longer stick which is not driven into the 
ground. The aviamula is a stout stick about 18 inches long, to 
which bunches of bast are tied at each end and doubled back so as 
to present somewhat the appearance of a dumbbell. All these 


properties had been used previously in the ceremony performed 
for Bevini^ 

Two dancers must take part in the ceremony, and one of 
them should be the woman's father, whether he be shaman or 
not ; if the woman has no father, or if he is unable to dance, 
her paternal uncle or her husband may take his part. In the 
ceremony we witnessed Nila, the father of Mari, and Vela, who 
was no relation to her, both wore the hangala. Nila also wore 
wristlets and cross shoulder straps of bark which represented beads. 

As usual all the women and children collected at one side of 
the cleared space to watch the ceremony, and Mari joined the 
other women in preparing the offering of cooked food. An 
arrow was struck (Plate XLV, fig. i) in the ground beside the 
usmukaliya, and Nila, standing in front of the three posts, 
began an invocation (No. xxx) which was soon taken up by the 
other men. Nila salaamed, took the arrow out of the earth and 
began to dance round the three posts, and then in and out 
between them, without observing any particular order, holding 
the end of the shaft with one hand and the head of the arrow 
with the other. The usual steps and movements were performed, 
the knees bent, the body inclined from the waist and swaying to 
and fro, the arms with the arrow between them being moved to 
and fro, but not raised higher than the chest. Vela followed Nila 
closely; it appeared that he should have held an arrow, but not 
having one, he did the next best thing and pretended that he 
had one, holding his hands as though there was an arrow 
between them. 

Suddenly when between two of the posts Nila dropped the 
arrow on the ground and leapt over it. Kaira, one of the 
onlookers, immediately picked it up and returned it to Nila. 
Nila then dropped the arrow between the other two posts and 
again leapt over it. This was repeated several times, Kaira 
always picking up the arrow and returning it to Nila, whose 
movements Vela imitated. Although we asked numerous 
questions as to the meaning of this figure no reason could be 
supplied, " Our fathers did it " was all the information we could 
obtain. The movements had gradually become quicker and 

^ See genealogy, p. 61. 


wilder till after a final leap between the posts Nila fell supine 
with outstretched arms, and was immediately supported by one 
of the onlookers. The ;}'aka of the high post now possessed Nila 
who, after a few minutes' imimobility, began to shiver and gasp, 
then springing forward he danced to the posts with shuffling 
feet and head bent forward, and examined each one in turn. 
This he did by dropping his head on them so that his face was 
partly buried in the bast, his supporter always close behind him 
(Plate XLV, fig. 2). We were told that Nila was now possessed 
by all three yakii, who appear to have entered him as he bent 
over the posts. The exact moment of the entry and exit of the 
yaka into the person of the shaman was often very ill-defined, 
although in this instance, and indeed in most cases when 
more than one yaka was present at a dance, it was clear when 
the first yaka arrived, it seemed that the other yaka entered 
the shaman without giving any immediate sign of their presence. 

The yakii speaking through Nila signified that they were 
pleased with the posts built for their reception. Then Nila 
picked up the wila and shouting, apparently with approval, held 
it up by each end and whirled the handle round making the 
bast strands fly out, then he approached Mari and waved it over 
her head and rested it there, so that her head was buried in the 
bast for several seconds while Nila predicted a male child 
(Plate XLVI, fig. i)^ Nila then danced to Handuna and 
waved the zvila over him. No particular reason was given for 
this, Handuna being no relation to the woman, but he was the 
most important old man in the community. 

After covering Handuna with the wila, Nila danced wildly, 
always with the rapt expression of a man possessed by a yaku, 
showing his pleasure by holding the wila aloft and whirling it 
round and round. Then Nila put down the wila and took the 
amamula and dancing with it in his hand he approached Mari 
stretching it out towards her, but he only stayed a ^q-w seconds 
and passed on to Handuna and falling on the latter's chest spoke 
and again foretold the birth of a male child to Mari. 

^ The sex of the child is determined by the position assumed by the strips of bast 
as they fall over the woman's head. If most fall over the woman's face the child will 
be a girl, if over the occiput a boy. 

Plate XLV^ 

Fig. I. Pata Yaku ceremony, the beginning of the dance (Sitala Wanniya)" 


Fig. 2. Pata Yaku ceremony, the shaman buries his face in 
the lisuiiikaliya (Sitala Wanniya)* 

Plate XLVI 

y - T 

Fig. I. Pata Yaku ceremony, the shaman predicts the sex of the child 

(Sitala Wanniya)*^ 

Fig. 2. Pata Yaku ceremony, Nila prays for his daughter's safe 
delivery (Sitala Wanniya)'- 


Nila exchanged the avtanmla for the wila, and coming to 
Mari again, raised the wila above her head and lowered it to the 
ground, letting the bast strips brush her face and body and then 
sweep the ground. This was done in order to wipe away the 
pain of labour. Then he leapt back to the centre of the cleared 
space and danced in and out between the three posts, hitting 
them with the wila. This was probably a sign of pleasure, for 
the driving away of yaku by striking their resting place would 
probably only take place at the end of the ceremony. He again 
approached Mari and fell back into the arms of his supporter, 
only remaining quiet for a few seconds until, trembling and 
gasping, he bent his head over the usmukaliya and buried his 
face in the bast. After doing this over each post he returned to 
the usnmkaliya and said he must go, speaking in the usual husky 
and gasping yakii voice ; then he fell exhausted into the arms 
of his supporter. All the Veddas now began to sing the in- 
vocation, and it was clear that the yahi had not departed from 
Nila for he soon began to quiver and gasp again, and sprang 
forward and danced between the three posts ; then he began to 
search for something, lifting the strands of bast on the usmukaliya, 
and after an exaggerated pantomimic search he found the wila, 
turning this in his hands so that the bast swung at right angles, 
he waved it over each of the three posts ; then turning to the 
usmukaliya, bent his head low over it and fell back exhausted. 
'Y'Wo.yaku now left him and he recovered consciousness without 
any quivering or trembling, salaamed to the usmukaliya and sat 
down to rest. All the properties were immediately piled 
together under a tree. It may be noted that although Vela 
began to dance with Nila, he did not become possessed and so 
took no part in the latter portion of the dance. 

After a short rest Nila went to the pile and holding a few 
strands of bast in one hand (Plate XLVI, fig. 2) repeated the 
following prayer to the Pata Yaku for his daughter's safety a 
number of times : — 

Ane ! maye dariiwata kisi antardwak wenda apd me war a. 
Goda yanta denda onae. 

Ane I (May) any harm not happen to my child this time. 

(You) must permit (her) to land (i.e. to escape from her sea of troubles). 

252 the veddas 

The Dola Yaka Ceremony. 

Collecting honey is almost as important to the Vedda as 
hunting, for not only is honey valuable as food but it is one of 
the most important articles of barter, and every year at the end 
of the honey season the Moormen pedlar^ penetrates into the 
wildest parts of the jungle with iron, cloth, pots and beads to 
exchange for the highly prized jungle honey. 

Nor is honey collecting without risk, for the " Little People 
of the Rocks" can be very angry, and their sting is deadly. 
Hence the Veddas ask for success in honey collecting from their 
natural protectors theyaki^, and Dola Yaka is especially invoked 
for this purpose. Although there is no tradition concerning his 
actions or his dwelling place his aid is invoked for success in 
collecting bavibara honey from trees, and for the more dangerous 
task of cutting the combs from the craggy hill tops and rock faces 
in which the colonies of the rock bee make their homes. The 
successful invocation of Dola Yaka can only take place in the 
early afternoon at the time when the bees are most active in 
visiting flowers. 

A niaesa with a single platform about 4 ft 6 in. from the 
ground was built, and two arrows were fixed in the centre of 
the space cleared for the dance (Plate XLVII). A betel leaf 
was placed on the top of each and pressed down on the shaft so 
that it rested on the feathers, and a small bead necklace was 
looped over the head of each arrow and rested on the betel leaf. 
These leaves were said to represent the large bundles of leaves 
which the Veddas use to smoke the bees from the comb, and the 
necklaces represent the creeper by which the twigs would be tied 
together and by which it would be lowered over the clifi* edge. 
It was noted that one arrow was taller than the other, and we 
were told that the taller arrow was the one which would be used 
in cutting the comb, and that when the honey was taken it would 
be thrust through the withy binding the bundle of leaves used 

^ The term Moormen is applied to the numerous Mohammedans who make their 
living as shopkeepers and pedlars. Many of them are proud cT their alleged Arabic 
descent, but it is only in a minority that skin colour or features suggest Arab blood, 
and the appearance of the majority of Moormen scarcely dififers from that of the 
Tamils of the East Coast, among whom their most considerable settlements are found. 

Plate XL\'II 

Dola Yaka ceremony, the offering to the Yaku (Sitala Wanniya)* 


as a smoker; the other was "just an arrow" and did not appear 
to fulfil any specific purpose. Small leafy twigs from the sur- 
rounding trees were placed on the ground round the arrows, and 
on these a number of betel leaves and areca nuts were placed as 
an offering, the twigs being a device for preventing the offering 
to the yakti from touching the ground. 

All the adult men of the community decided to take part in 
this dance, as only those who become possessed by Dola Yaka 
would derive benefit from the ceremony, that is, obtain special 
favour and help from him in gathering honey. In order to 
provide a supporter for each man, the dance was performed in 
two parts, Nila, Kaira and Pema taking part in the first per- 
formance. The ceremony began by these men walking several 
times round the arrows singing an invocation (No. XXXl) as 
they moved clockwise and occasionally salaamed to the arrows. 
Soon they began to dance and at times passed their hands, 
palms downwards, over the top of the arrows. This was the 
old custom ; the reason for it was not known. After a little 
while Nila fell and was supported, soon all three dancers became 
possessed and bending forward shook their heads over the 
arrows. Then Nila taking the lead, they all moved to one 
end of the dancing ground, where they assumed the strained 
attitude of men listening attentively for the distant hum of bees, 
with body bent forward, one hand to the ear and the other 
raised as if to impose silence on their companions. Suddenly 
they all leapt back to the arrows and danced round them wildly, 
and shook their heads low over them ; again they listened for 
the bees and beat their chests v/ith joy, crying, "We hear many 
bees, there will be plenty of honey." 

Returning to the arrows they danced round them again, at 
times falling back into the arms of their supporters, and again 
springing forward to dance. Nila gave each of us a betel leaf 
as a sign of favour from Dola Yaka, and then spoke in a gasping 
voice to Handuna who answered him. All beat their bodies 
with both hands, driving away imaginary bees. Again they 
listened for the bees, and this time picked up some leafy twigs 
and pretending they were alight shook them beneath the maesa, 
which now represented a comb, but they soon sprang back and 


rushed to the opposite side of the dancing ground to get away 
from the angry bees. After repeating this pantomime, Nila, 
with much gasping and shaking of the arrows, promised 
bambara combs to Handuna, wherever he went. More dancing 
round the arrows followed and another mock smoking was per- 
formed, after which the three men fled from the maesa brushing 
the bees away and even feigning to pick some off their bodies. 
Then they returned to the arrows round which they danced until 
they all fell back and Dola Yaka departed from them. 

Handuna explained to us that in dancing to Dola Yaka it 
was usual to hold a cloth over the head, and that Dola Yaka 
had remarked on the absence of cloths and warned the dancers 
that evil might befall them if they were to slip and fall with 
their heads uncovered. So two pieces of white cloth were pro- 
vided for Handuna and Vela, who put on hangala and repeated 
the dance. The ceremony was identical with that already 
described except in two respects ; in the first part of the 
dance Handuna and Vela held their cloths in their out- 
stretched arms, frequently putting them over their heads and 
always doing so when listening for the hum of the bees, and 
when they prophesied to their fellows each held his cloth so as 
to cover both the man to whom he spoke and himself Both 
men, however, put down their cloths just before the end of the 
dance and, pulling the arrows out of the ground, went through 
the pantomime of cutting the combs from below the maesa with 

The Invocation of the Rahu Yaku. 

Sitala Wanniya was the only place at which we saw this 
ceremony, though the Rahu Yaku were also invoked at the 
alutyakagajna ceremony at Unuwatura Bubula. At Sitala 
Wanniya the Rahu Yaku are called upon to cure sickness 
and to give good luck in collecting honey from trees. It 
seemed that they were not invoked to grant protection or 
good fortune when rock-honey was sought, this being the 
function of Dola Yaka. The offerings necessary to propitiate 
them are coconuts and rice, and each dancer must wear a piece 
of white cloth and cross shoulder straps of bark. 


The story relates that there was once three brothers, and one 
day the youngest was very angry and quarrelled with his wife. 
He left her in his cave and went out hunting, and when he 
returned he found a strange man in the cave with his wife. The 
stranger escaped so quickly that the angry husband could not 
shoot him ; but he then beat his wife, and though he did not kill 
her he jumped into the fire and v/as burnt to death and became 
Gini Rahu Bandar or Yaka. When they died his two brothers 
became Rahu Yaku also. 

A post was placed in the centre of the cleared dancing space, 
the upper end was split and bound so as to form the support for 
a pot containing coconut milk, a few areca nuts and betel leaves. 
This was called the wilkoraha (lake pot), for once in the old 
days water was required to make the coconut milk for an offering 
to the Rahu Yaku, and as there was no stream near by it had 
to be fetched from a lake ; hei.ce the name wilkoraha. A niaesa 
(well seen in Plate LXVIII, fig. i) about 4 ft 6 in. high was 
built of sticks at one side of the dancing ground, and two pots 
of cooked rice and coconut milk were put on it as an offering to 
the yaku. A piece of bark to represent a necklace was put on 
the wilkoraha ; it was not known why it was necessary to offer 
a necklace to the Rahu Yaku, but it was always done\ Wooden 
kadiiwa (swords) were used when invoking Rahu Yaku ; these 
were two flattened sticks about 18 ins. long decorated with bands 
of red and yellow pigment and with guards made of twigs of 
fresh green leaves. One of these kadttwa without its guard is 
shown in fig. 1 1. 

The use of the sword {kadiizua) and the objects themselves 
are both curious, for Veddas have never used any weapon but 
the bow and axe, and Handuna explained that though these 
were called kaduwa they really represented ceremonial arrows 

^ It was quite clear that Vedda men never wore necklaces, but yaku, especially 
dangerous yaku, as the Rahu Yaku were declared to be, were sometimes offered 
necklaces or pieces of bast to represent them. Thus at Unuwatura Bubula, Indigollae 
Yaka was considered especially dangerous, and the shaman kept a particular string of 
old and highly valued beads and used it only when making invocations to \}i\\% yaka. 
These and other instances strengthen the idea expressed in Chapter viii that beads 
are prized among the Veddas for their magical properties, the idea of ornament being 
quite secondary. 



or ande, yet ran kadiiwa the " golden sword " is mentioned in 

many of the songs and invocations, so that 
it seems that the whole of the Vedda cere- 
mony of the invocation of the Rahu Yaku 
has been taken over from the Sinhalese, among 
whom the cult of Gini Rahu Bandar occurs. 
This borrowing must have occurred in ancient 
days, perhaps as long ago as the time when 
the Sinhalese invaded the Vedda country 
and carved the drip ledges on the caves, for 
as already mentioned the Sinhalese Rahu 
Bandar has become identified with three Vedda 
brothers whose spirits have retained only 
traces of the fierce nature of the Sinhalese 
demon. Once having borrowed the idea of 
a sword {kaduwd) and invocations in which 
it was mentioned, its name would remain, 
though in course of time the implement 
would become assimilated to the Vedda aiide. 
Handuna and Kaira put on hangala and 
stood in front of the wilkoraJia with the 
kaduwa in their hands, and Handuna began 
to recite the invocation to the Rahu Yaku 
(No. xxxv). Kaira took up the words and 
repeated them, always a few words behind 
Handuna. Soon they began to dance slowly 
round the wilkoraha holding the kaduwa in 
the same way as the aicde is held in dances, 
i.e. right hand on point and left hand at the 
base of the handle, and as they danced they 
twirled them slowly in their fingers (Plate 
XLVni, fig. I). After a short time they 
both swayed their bodies more and the dance 
became more vigorous ; then they began to 
shiver and shake their heads and became 
possessed by the two elder Rahu Yaku. 
They shouted, leaped and raised their kaduwa 
in the air, twirled them round with their 

Fig. II. 




arms straight above their heads, and then stretching over the 
zvilkoraha exchanged kaduiva. They danced a few steps 
and exchanged kadiiwa again, and yet once more before they 
bent their heads low over the tvilkoralia, by which action the 
yaku inspected the coconut milk and pronounced it very good. 
The exchange of swords was merely in imitation of the Rahu 
brothers who were said to have done this in their lifetime. 

After approving of the offering of milk Handuna and Kaira, 
both followed by their supporters, danced to Nila, and Handuna 
placed his sword on the latter's chest while swaying his body 
and moving from one foot to the other, prophesying that Nila 
would have good luck in hunting and would take many combs 
(Plate XLVIII, fig. 2). Nila answered; Handuna and Kaira 
still gasping and trembling said that the yaku possessing them 
must go now, and that their brother the Fire Chief would come. 
There was more wild dancing round the wilkoraha, and both 
men were so overcome that had their supporters not held them 
in their arms they must have fallen. We could not determine 
the exact time of the departure of the two elder Rahu Yaku and 
the advent of the younger brother^ Handuna and Kaira bent 
their heads simultaneously over the wilkoraha, inspected the 
milk, were satisfied and continued to dance, and while a bundle 
of grass was brought and set on fire they raised both arms, and 
after holding hands over the wilkoraha they rushed to the 
burning grass and danced on the fire till they put it out, then 
again holding hands they danced and bent their heads over the 
wilkoraha. More grass was set alight, and after repeating their 
dance on it both fell back into their supporters' arms. In a iew 
seconds they sprang forward and danced up to Nila: Handuna 
spoke in the gasping yaka voice and covered the swords with a 
cloth. More grass having been set alight the dance continued 
as before, first round the pot, then on the flames, and then 
round the pot again. While Handuna placed his sword on the 
chest of Nila the spirit within him spoke saying he must go 
soon, but both Handuna and Kaira danced again before 

^ It was perfectly clear that the idea of one yaka possessing two people at the 
same time presented no difficulty to Handuna and the rest of the Sitala Wanniya 

s. v. 17 


returning to Nila and giving him their kadnwa to hold. This 
they did because they wanted to put them down, and they con- 
sidered them too sacred and dangerous to be put on the ground, 
or even to be held by anyone who was not a grown man who 
had frequent intercourse with the spirits. 

Handuna took the necklace from the wilkoraha and showed 
it to one of us (B. Z. S.), to whom he gave it, asking for a real 
necklace instead of the bast one. Kaira followed Handuna and 
gave to each of us betel leaves from the wilkoj-aJia as a sign of 
favour from the youngest of the Rahu Yaku. Then both went 
to the maesa, looked at the offering, and then fell back into their 
supporters' arms. We were told that the yaka was well pleased 
with the offering and was about to depart from them, but Nila 
sang the invocation and soon the two dancers began to tremble 
and shake their heads, then shouting hah ! hah ! they sprang 
forward and danced again. They picked up their kaduwa from 
the wilkoraha, where they had been put for safety, this being 
considered a sufficiently sacred spot. Using the leaves which 
formed the hilts of their swords, they scooped out the coconut 
milk from the wilkoraha and scattered it about, and those on 
whom it happened to fall considered themselves lucky. Then 
the yaka spoke to Nila saying that he wished to go, and Nila 
answered " It is well." But before the yaka left Handuna and 
Kaira, the two men danced toward that side of the cleared spot 
where the women and children were grouped together, raising 
their kadinua and pointing at the group. One woman was 
carrying a baby suffering from yaws, and Handuna held his 
kadiiwa over the child's head and promised that its sores should 
be cured. Then Handuna and Kaira gave their kadiiwa to 
Nila ; both bent their heads over the maesa and theyaka left them. 

The necklace was replaced on the ivilkoraha which was put 
with the kaduzva on the maesa. Handuna and Kaira repeated 
a charm over them and all were removed from the maesa. 
Handuna picked a few leafy twigs, put them under a tree, 
then took the leaves from the kaduwa and placed them on 
the freshly picked leaves, so that the hallrvved leaves might 
not touch the ground ; he then poured the remains of the 
coconut milk from the wilkoraha over them. 


Fig. I. Rahu Yaka ceremony, the beginning of the dance (Sitala Wanniya)' 

Fig. 2. Rahu Yaka ceremony, the shaman prophesies good luck in hunting 
and honey gathering (Sitala Wanniya)" 


When later we asked Handuna for the kadiiwa as specimens, 
the request was not granted until something was given in 
exchange to the Rahu Yaku, as Handuna said they might 
cause trouble if their property were taken from them. 

Wanagata Yaku. 

The story of the Wanagata Yaku was that once a family 
became imprisoned in their rock-shelter by the fall of rock 
which blocked the entrance to the cave, so that the whole family 
died and their spirits became Wanagata Yaku, who are now 
invoked for help in hunting. In spite of this the ceremonial 
with which these yahi are invoked did not appear to have any 
reference to the story. 

A sapling rather more than six feet high with its head and 
branches was stripped of its bark and thrust into the ground in 
the centre of the space cleared for dancing; its upper end had 
been split previously so as to form a support for small objects, 
and long strands of bast were tied to it. A handkerchief was 
thrown over the top and pressed down between the split ends, 
and some betel leaves were placed on this. 

The shaman wearing a hangala danced slowly round the 
post with a handkerchief in his hand, while the invocation was 
sung. The handkerchief was soon exchanged for an aude^ and it 
was noted that this was not the same one that had been used 
v/hen invoking Kande Yaka in a previous dance. In order to 
avoid putting the handkerchief on the ground the shaman tied 
it round his shoulder. Then taking some betel leaves he danced 
with these and the aude in his hands, then transfixing the betel 
leaves on the point of the aitde he raised them to his head, thus 
offering them to the Wanagata Yaku (Plate XLIX, fig, i). 
Soon he became possessed and bent his head, shaking his hair 
over his face as he clung to the post with one hand while his 
whole body quivered and shook. With a shout he seized two 
aude, and holding one in each hand came to one of us (C. G. S.) 
and holding both aude over his shoulders said, as he quivered 
and shifted from one foot to the other, " You have called us, 
what do you want } " He returned to the post, when a rice 

17 — 2 


mortar was brought and a bowl containing coconut milk in 
which betel leaves floated was placed upon it. The shaman 
placed a betel leaf from the bowl on the ande and presented one 
to each of us in turn, as a sign of favour on the part of the 
Wanagata Yaku, speaking in a hoarse gasping voice and raising 
his arms alternately the while. He returned to the post, and, 
grasping the bast streamers, bent his head (Plate XLIX, fig. 2) 
and quivered all over before dancing round it with both aude in 
his hands; finally he clasped the post with bowed head, and the 
yaku left him. 

The Alutyakagama Ceremony at Unuwatura Bubula. 

The structure of the alutyakagama is well shown in a number 
of the figures illustrating this ceremony, and is especially clear in 
fig. I of plate LII. 

It seems probable that this is not a pure Vedda ceremony, 
but is to be regarded as an amalgamation of a dance to Kande 
Yaka and the Nae Yaku, whom this people called the Alutyaku 
(i.e. New Yaku), and of a dance to Gale Yaka only met with 
under this name here and at Omuni. We were unable to de- 
termine whether the alutyakagama structure had always been 
used when dancing to Gale Yaka, and had been carried from 
his cult to that of the Nae Yaku, or had long been considered 
necessary for the invocation of the Nae or Alut Yaku. Perhaps 
neither of these events occurred ; indeed, we consider it most 
probable that both dances have been confused with the kolo- 
Diaduwa or one of its early forms such as the rinvala ceremony 
which is described later on in this chapter, and which is almost 
certainly of foreign origin. 

Unuwatura Bubula is a small and extremely poor settlement of 
Veddas, of whom a general description has been given on p. 47. 

The dance began by Sela Kaurala repeating an invocation 
with a handkerchief on his head\ while Naida Kaurala holding 

■^ Unfortunately we have no exact note stating to whom this invocation was sung. 
It is most probable that it was to Gale Yaka, as this was the yaka by whom the 
shaman was first possessed. If this is so the fact of the hanciKcrchief being held over 
the head is of interest, as Mr Parker identifies Gale Yaka with the Sinhalese Gale 
Deviya who is depicted with a three-tiered hat, which is also worn by his dancer, called 

Plate XL IX 

'^^'}. i^.r. .::'•■. ■- 



Fig. I. Wanagata Yaku ceremony, the shaman offers betel leaves 
to the Yaku (Unuwatura Bubula) 

Fig. 2. Wanagata Yaku ceremony, the shaman possessed by the Yaku 

(Unuwatura Bubula) 

Plate L 

Fig. I. Alutyakagama ceremony, the beginning of the invocation 

(Unuwatura Bubula) 

Fig. 2. Alutyakagama ceremony, the shaman and his supporter at 
the alutyakagama (Unuwatura Bubula) 

Plate LI 

Fig-. I. Alutyakagama ceremony, testing the offering (Unuwatura Bubula) 

Fig. 2. Alutyakagama ceremony, the shaman comes .0 us with an 
aitde in each hand (Unuwatura Bubula) 


a handkerchief between his hands danced first round the 
alntyakagama, and then in and out between the posts, at times 
holding the handkerchief over his head (Plate L, fig-, i). We 
were told that these handkerchiefs would be kept apart for the 
yakii and would never be used for any purpose other than 
dancing. The shaman, Sela Kaurala, soon became agitated and 
was supported, and the Gale Yaka entered his person. Now he 
assumed the rapt expression of one possessed, pulled down his 
hair, and with a shout caught hold of the leaves hanging from 
the aliiiyakagama, where he continued to dance in and out of the 
structure, shaking and hitting the hanging leaves as he passed, 
but frequently stopping at the west front to take hold of the 
bunches of leaves while quivering all over and shouting (Plate L, 
fig. 2). Now a rice-mortar was brought into the altityakagama, 
and the shaman placed the offering of cooked food upon it for 
the yakii to see and appreciate the good things provided. The 
mide was then placed on the rice pot, and the shaman, holding 
the leaves with both hands, shouted and shook his head, and 
then, taking an mide in either hand, picked up a few grains of 
rice on one of them (Plate LI, fig. i), which he smelt, and 
although he did not eat them the yaka now pronounced the 
food to be good. About this time the shaman became possessed 
by one of the Nae Yaku. Three times the shaman inspected 
the rice, being possessed by a different Nae Yaku each time, and 
each spirit shouted his satisfaction. We were unable to discover 
the names of these as the shaman was taken ill after this dance, 
but there seemed no doubt that the dancer would know the 
Nae Yaku by whom he had been possessed. The shaman now 
wore two long necklaces of beads, putting them round his neck 
and under his arms, so as to form cross shoulder ornaments; we 
were told that these were for the yakini, but we were unable to 
discover whether this was one of the Alut Yakini or Gale Yakini 
who was mentioned in this locality. 

The ceremony continued for some time as before, the shaman 
frequently shaking the leaves, shouting and gasping, and again 
inspecting the food. There was very little dancing, but this may 

anwnaetirala, when dancing to him. Sometimes, however, when a three-tiered hat 
could not be obtained the dancer held a handkerchief over his head. 


have been because the shaman was an old man who suffered 
from a severe cough. At one time, instead of picking up the 
rice with an ande, he did it with the corner of his handkerchief. 
Great care was always taken that neither the aude, the beads nor 
the handkerchief should be put on the ground, and when the 
shaman wanted to get rid of either of the two former he placed 
them on the rice pot ; at one time when he did not require the 
handkerchief he tied it over his shoulder, for to place anything 
belonging to the yaku on the ground would be to offer a serious 
insult to them. 

After some time the first rice pot was removed, and a second 
one was brought. Sela Kaurala squatted beside it and sang, 
while Naida Kaurala danced with the handkerchief in his hands. 
One pot of food was for the yaka, and one for the yakini. The 
shaman exchanged the handkerchief for an mide and danced 
with that, but soon picked up another ande and danced with 
one in each hand singing an invocation (No. XXXVIl). Now he 
became possessed by Rahu Yaka, with the usual accompaniment 
of shivering and quaking and pulling at the leaves hanging from 
the ahityakagaina. Some grass was brought and put under the 
alutyakagama; this was lit, and the shaman danced on the fire: 
more shaking and holding of the leaves followed, and then with 
an ande in each hand, which he held by the blades, he approached 
us (Plate LI, fig. 2) and spoke. He returned to the alntyakagama, 
and, holding the leaves with both hands, bent over the rice pot, 
and then danced round and in and out of the structure, hitting the 
pendant leaves. Meanwhile the Rahu Yaka song was repeated ; 
at last stopping at the west side he bent his head over the rice 
pot and fell back. After a short rest Sela Kaurala put on the 
hangala and danced in the same way that Naida Kaurala had 
done, becoming possessed, by Gale Yaka. There was no ex- 
ceptional feature in this dance; the shaman danced at one time 
with the handkerchief and afterwards with the ajide, and inspected 
the food, and there was much holding on to the leaves and shaking 
and speaking in the hoarse yaka voice. Before the yaka left the 
shaman he took the rice pot from the pounder and spun it 
(Plate LII, fig. i); the second pot of food was brought and 
he spun that too. After the yaka had left him the shaman, 

Plate LI I 

Fig. I. Alutyakagama ceremony, the shaman about to spin the pot of food 

(Unuwatura Bubula) 

Fig. 2. Ruwala ceremony, the vii-wala prepared by Wannaku of Uniche 

(Maha Oya) 


Still dancing, stripped the leaves from the alutyakagaina, and, 
holding on to the horizontal cross bar, shook the framework 
violently in order to drive away any of the yaku who might still 
be resting there. 

Unfortunately we were not able to get much trustworthy 
information about this or any of the other dances at Unuwatura 
Bubula, as Sela Kaurala, who appeared to suffer from asthma 
and chronic bronchitis, coughed up a good deal of blood after 
this dance, and was unable to discuss the ceremony with us 
afterwards. His pupil, Naida Kaurala, was not nearly so well 
informed. There were several points which we were unable to 
settle satisfactorily; Gale Yaku, we were told, were many and 
not one Yaka, yet Gale Yaka or Yaku seemed confused with 
Kande Yaka, for we were told that the big aude was for Kande 
Yaka and the smaller one for Bilindi Yaka. Nevertheless the 
shaman held both when dancing to Gale Yaka, and he spun the 
pot of rice, which in several other communities had been done by 
the shaman when possessed by Kande Yaka. 

The Ruwala Ceremony. 

This ceremony was danced by the Veddas of Uniche. It 
began by Wannaku, who was wearing a haugala of new white 
cloth, moving slowly round the centre post of the ruwala holding 
a bunch of leaves in each hand and reciting an invocation to 
Ruwala Yaka and Yakini, who live on Nuwaragala. He stood 
close to the central pole of the ruwala, and at first faced towards 
the north, that is, not in the direction of Nuwaragala but towards 
the quarter whence came the yaku who live on Nuwaragala and 
other hills who are invoked in this dance. These yaku were not 
the spirits of the dead, but had always existed as yaku. The 
original home was on the other side of the ocean in Handun 
Kaele, the "sandal-wood jungle," which the educated, but not 
the peasant, Sinhalese recognise as being in India. Long ago 
the yaku made a raft and crossed the ocean, and the sail (Sin. 
ruwala) and mast of their raft are represented by the centre pole 
{ruwala) of the structure of that name, while the streamers 
represent the "silver" and "golden" stays of their mast. 


Plate LI I, fig. 2 shows the ruwala built by Wannaku and his 
comrades at Maha Oya. 

The dance began by Wannaku moving slowly round the 

central post. As he did this he sometimes waved the bundle of 

leaves which he held in his hands, at other times he held his 

hands close together in front of his body. As his dancing 

became quicker and more vigorous, Sina, his eldest son, placed 

himself behind him, and following his movements prepared to 

support him when he became possessed. Suddenly Wannaku 

fell forward assuming a cruciform attitude, his arms held stiffly 

at right angles to his body and his neck rigidly extended so that 

his head was pressed against the centre post of the rinvala, his 

supporter bearing the whole strain of holding him in this position. 

He still grasped the leaves in his hands, and his face was buried 

in the leaves tied to the centre post of the rmvala. He remained 

in this position for perhaps half a minute, then shaking violently 

he clutched the post in both hands. It was explained that the 

yaku were in the leaves tied to the ruwala, and that thence they 

passed into the body of the shaman, in whose shaking and 

quivering person they inspected and approved the structure 

of the rinvala, while the shaman clutched the central post. 

After a few moments the shaman danced again, this time more 

energetically than before, moving in and out of and round the 

structure of the rinvala, while he struck at the leaves pendant 

from its framework with the twigs he held in his hands. His 

movements became more violent, and he shouted several times. 

All this was explained as play on the part of the yakii, who 

thus showed their pleasure in the ruwala that had been built 

for them. Wannaku clutched at the side posts and bast 

streamers, and struck these with the leaves he held in his hands. 

The yak// thus examined the streamers to ascertain if they were 

properly made and of the right number. Wannaku then danced 

very energetically, and leaving the ruzvala dragged Sina to where 

Mr Perera stood a few paces from the rinvala, and shaking and 

gesticulating violently spoke to him promising him success in all 

he undertook^ 

1 Mr Samuel Perera, Forest Ranger, was an old friend of the Uniche community, 
and it was owing to his presence and assistance at our first interview with Wannaku 
iind his fellows that we were immediately on the best of terms with them. 


Wannaku again danced in and out and round the structure, 
then after striking the leaves and clutching the uprights of the 
ruwala he dragged his supporter towards an elderly Vedda on- 
looker, before whom he quivered and shouted as he had done 
before Mr Perera. We were told that in this case he prophesied 
success in hunting. After this he returned to the rtnvala, and, 
still dancing and quivering, took a streamer in his left hand and 
shouting and dancing wiped its length with the bunch of leaves 
that he held in his right hand. He began this manoeuvre at the 
east front of the rtnvala, and taking each streamer in turn, went 
round in the opposite direction to the hands of a clock, but he 
soon turned and went round the reverse way; we were afterwards 
told that he should have gone clockwise all the time, and that 
when he did otherwise " it was a mistake." After this he danced 
round the central post, clutching at the leaves that hung from 
the roof of the ruwala, and at last moving so energetically and 
violently as to get away from his supporter Sina, who had been 
following his movements as best he could. About this time 
Sina himself became possessed, and after a few moments of 
extremely energetic dancing both men fell supine at the north 
front of the ruzvala. Wannaku came to himself almost immedi- 
ately, but Sina appeared to remain unconscious, even when 
lifted up and propped against the central post of the riavala, 
while Wannaku shook bunches of leaves in his face and over 
his head, Wannaku meanwhile dancing energetically and re- 
peating two words, to which the onlookers answered "Eh-h." 
We were told that the yakii in this way announced their satisfac- 
tion with the ruwala which had been built for them, and indicated 
that they were now ready to go. 

Then Wannaku stumbled to the central post, to which he 
clung in a seemingly exhausted condition, partly supported by 
a Vedda, who had been following him since Sina fell to the 
ground. As Sina, who had been helped up by another man, 
still appeared in a semi-conscious condition, water was splashed 
over him, with the result that he soon came to himself This 
was the end of the ceremonial as far as Ruwala Yaka and 
Ruwala Yakini were concerned, but after a short break another 
Vedda invoked two other yaku, Milalane Yaka and Milalane 


Yakini, who live on a hill called Milalanegala. This Vedda 
danced in very much the same way as Wannaku had danced, 
and the few differences noted, such as his less energetic steps, 
were doubtless due to personal idiosyncrasy. However, he did 
not bury his head in the leaves tied to the central post on 
becoming possessed, but shook the leaves which he held in his 
right hand in his own face, having previously struck these 
against those pendant from the ruwala. After dancing for a 
short time he staggered up to Wannaku and spoke, the spirits 
possessing him asking why they were called and whether there 
was sickness amongst the people. To this Wannaku answered 
" No," telling the spirits that he had called them at the request 
of the white man who wished to know them. After this the cele- 
brant again danced in and out of and round the ruwala, striking 
at the pendant leaves. Soon he buried his head in the leaves 
tied to the central post, his whole body quivering, then he quickly 
jumped away from the pole and made his way to the Ratema- 
hatmaya of the district, who was an onlooker, and shook the 
leaves in his right hand against the latter's chest, telling him he 
would be successful in the business he was about to undertake. 
This was in answer to a question that the Ratemahatmaya had 
shouted a short time previously. There was more dancing round 
the central pole, the performer striking it with the leaves which 
he held in his hand ; after a few minutes he approached 
Wannaku, and striking him with the leaves said something, 
and again danced round the central pole which he seized in his 
hand and shook four times, once facing each of the cardinal 
points of the compass, shouting loudly as he did so. This was 
the means adopted by the yaku to test the solidity of the 
structure. We were told that this dance was generally per- 
formed in order to cure sickness, and if the pole fell or the 
structure came to pieces the patient for whose benefit it took 
place would die or others would become ill. At last with many 
quiverings and clutchings at the central post the yaku took their 

A similar dance lasting a shorter time, di./ing which the 
dancer was possessed by Moranegala Yaka, then took place, 
after which Wannaku, who appeared to have- quite recovered 


from his previous fatigue, invoked Walimabagala Yaka and 
Yakini. The dancing of these yakii exactly resembled that 
described at the beginning of the ceremony, and is therefore 
not further recorded. 

The Kolamaduwa Ceremony. 

It seems very doubtful whether the kolamaduwa as it exists 
at the present day should be described as a Vedda ceremony at 
all, though as it was danced by the Henebedda Veddas at 
Bendiyagalge it merits a description. It is in any case certain 
that the kolaviadtnva is not often performed, as the amount of 
food and other properties necessary could scarcely have been 
found by one small Vedda community^; also its main objects, 
the curing of disease in cattle and epidemic sickness among 
men, would not appeal greatly to small communities of hunters 
dwelling in healthy surroundings. At the present day the 
Henebedda Veddas make rough chena and herd cattle for the 
Sinhalese, but the cattle have not yet become an important 
factor in their lives, and the people themselves do not suffer from 
epidemics. Further, at Bandaraduwa, on the borders of the 
Eastern Province, the only other place where this dance was 
known among Veddas, we were told that they would perform it 
for the Sinhalese, and that each dancer would be paid Rs. 5 
for his trouble besides being given his food. Our aged Sinhalese 
informant, mentioned on p. 31, told us that the kolamaduwa was 
not danced by these Veddas when he was a boy, and that he con- 
sidered it had arisen as an elaboration of the rinvala ceremony 
which used to be performed in those days. The riiwala — 
already described in this chapter — itself shows signs of having 
been introduced from the Tamils of the east coast, though 
probably at a comparatively remote period. Great numbers of 
yaku and yakini should be invoked at the kolamaduwa; some, 

■' According to Tissahami all the following offerings were necessary for a full 
ceremony. Eight measures of rice and two large pots in which to cook it, 10 coconuts, 
5 bundles of yams, 50 plantains, 2 sugar canes, 200 betel leaves, 12 candles, i lb. 
sandal wood, 100 balls of jaggery, \ lb. turmeric, i lb. of resm, 4 coloured cloths, 
5 yards of white cloth, 4 necklets of beads, 8 small baskets and 8 cloths to cover them, 
4 pairs of metal bangles, i bottle of ghee and flowers of various kinds. 


the spirits of people who frankly were not Veddas, such as 
Peradeniya Bandar; others, spirits of men like Panikki Vedda 
already referred to, famous for catching elephants and buffaloes, 
who were Veddas in little more than name. Others, if Veddas 
in name, yet behaved like Kandyan chiefs, if we may judge from 
their deeds quoted in the invocations, such as building dagabas 
and bringing paddy fields under cultivation. Some of the Maha 
Yakini are regarded as the wives of such chiefs, and Unapane 
Kiriamma is in this community regarded as the wife of 
Unapane Wanniya, the chief who first brought the paddy 
fields at Unapane under cultivation. 

The Kolamaduwa Ceremony at Bendiyagalge. 

This was admittedly not a full ceremony. Although the 
bower was built the correct offerings were not made nor were 
all the yakii invoked, and a disturbance which took place the 
next evening was said to be due to the anger of the yaku on 
account of the lack of offerings (see p. 125). Plate LI 1 1, fig. I 
shows the kolaviadinva with bunches of leaves hanging from the 
horizontal bars of the framework and a circle of leaves called 
kolavegeiia suspended from the centre, that is, the crossing of the 
horizontal bars. The shaman, Sita Wanniya, Randu Wanniya 
and Kaira, holding bunches of leaves in their hands, walked 
round the circle within the upright posts while they sang an 
invocation to the yaku to come to the leaves of the kolamaduwa. 
Soon they began to dance (Plate LI 1 1, fig. 2) with the usual step, 
gentl} at first, but gradually swaying and bending more and 
more they brushed the leaves of the kolamadinva with those 
they held in their hands at each step. 

A basket covered with a cloth had been placed on a tripod 
in one corner of the bower, and this should have contained 
various offerings for the yakini, including flowers and beads; 
not having either to offer, a few leaves had been put in it. 
Sita Wanniya seized this basket called pakiidaina, and danced 
with it in both hands, then after a short time he shouted " Ah, ah ! " 
and became possessed by the Maha Yakini. When the Sita 

Plate LIII 

Fig. I. Kolamaduwa ceremony, the kolamadifwa (Henebedda) 

Fig, 2. Kolamaduwa ceremony, the beginning of the dance (Henebedda) 

Plate LIV 

Fig. I. Kolamaduwa ceremony, the shaman and Sita Wanniya become 

possessed (Henebedda)* 

Fig. 2. Kolamaduwa ceremony, slashing the leaves from the kolamaduwa 



Wanniya picked up the basket the shaman put his head inside 
the circle, and a Vedda immediately made ready to support him 
if he should fall. The shaman, now possessed, held on to the 
horizontal pieces and trembled violently, while his head and the 
upper part of his body were hidden by the leaves. Soon he left 
it and danced in and out of the kolajuaduwa, followed closely by a 
Vedda ready to support him. Sita Wanniya hid himself in the 
leaves of the circle in the same way for a few seconds, his whole 
body swaying to and fro the while. On leaving the kolavegena 
he danced about wildly, but soon returned to put his head into 
the circle again, and then, swaying and tottering, danced up to 
us, and, speaking with the voice of the yakini, said, " Why have 
you called us ? there is nothing in this basket for us, and there 
is no food provided." Then he returned to the circle, into which 
he thrust his head, while several men surrounded him and fanned 
him with leaves. When he emerged he again came to us, and 
in the person of the yakini asked us for bangles, and again 
returned to the kolavegena; then several of the dancers pushed 
their heads into it at once, Sita Wanniya returned to us and 
placed the basket on each of our heads in turn, presumably as a 
sign of favour. Then the shaman put his head into the kolavegena, 
and all the other dancers, having put down their bunches of 
leaves, now held peeled sticks to represent swords, and raised 
these over the shaman's head, and then slashed the leaves off 
the kolaniaduwa (Plate LIV, fig. 2). Shouting and gasping, 
they all came to us, those possessed by the yaku gasping out 
that they must leave ; then they returned to the kolaniaduwa 
and danced in and out, raising and crossing their sticks. This 
was continued for a little while, the shaman several times putting 
his head into the circle and all using their sticks as before. The 
spirits left those who were possessed quietly, without producing 
collapse, and the performers ended the dance by silently putting 
their sticks on the top of the kolavegena, this being done to 
avoid putting them on the ground, as they were now sacred to 
the yaku. 

After the dance the shaman cut the kolavegena from off the 
kolamadtiwa and tore off the leaves still remaining on it, in order 
to prevent tSxe yaku returning to it. 


The Avana Ceremony, 

The avana ceremony which we saw at Henebedda may be 
described here. Mr Bibile told us that he had heard of it having 
been performed in his father's time by Sinhalese in the neigh- 
bourhood of Bibile, and the former Korala of Bakiella in the 
Eastern Province, a man particularly versed in magic and 
spiritual matters, knew all about this custom, while on the other 
hand many Veddas did not know of it. Our impression is that 
we are here dealing with an original Vedda custom, consisting 
of an offering of part of the game killed, which has been modified 
by the peasant Sinhalese of the Vedda country, and again 
adopted from them in its modified form by the Veddas. 

The following account of the avana custom records what we 
actually saw done on the night of February 7th, at Henebedda 
on the occasion of the death of a fine buck. The stag, which 
had been shot a short distance from Bendiyagalge caves, was 
carried to a convenient slab of rock between our camp and the 
caves and there cut up, an arrow being most skilfully used to 
skin and disjoint the animal ; the throat was opened low down 
in the front of the neck, one or more big veins being severed, 
and three double handfuls of blood were smeared upon a heap 
of mora leaves which had previously been laid on a rock. Then 
six long narrow pieces of muscle called anda inalu (eel flesh, 
because the strips of muscle are long like eels) were cut from 
the root of the neck as well as two morsels from the tongue, the 
nostril and the ears. These twelve pieces of meat, constituting 
the offering called avana, were put on the blood-smeared leaves 
for the Kadawara Yaku, who were said to be the spirits of eleven 
Veddas who were named and described as follows : 

Avana Vedda. the first Vedda who instituted the rite. 

Le Vedda, the first man who smeared blood on the heap of 

Mas Vedda, the first man who laid meat upon the heap of 

Buta Vedda, the yaka of the Vedda who sent the animal 
whose blood and flesh were used at the first avana ceremony. 

Atu Holaman Vedda, the yaka who makes noises in the 


forest near the hunter to make him beheve that the game he is 
following has run away. 

Bedi Holaman Vedda, the j'aka who breaks sticks and causes 
dead branches to fall and so frighten game away. 

Kili Mas Vedda, the _yaka of the Vedda who cut up the 
animal whose flesh and blood were used at the first avana. 

Polu Mas Vedda, who smoked part of the meat of this 

Melihi Vedda, the yaka who blinds hunters so that they 
cannot track the wounded game. 

Ahuru Gahana Vedda, the Vedda who first snapped his 
fingers to call his dogs. 

Ihurun Gahana Vedda, the Vedda who first whistled to his 
dogs to come hunting. 

These eleven yakii are considered strong enough to kill 
folk and to send sickness; it appeared to us that the individuals 
of this group were not carefully differentiated but rather regarded 
as one power. 

The Korala of Bakiella who has already been mentioned 
said that a leaf cone {goiiiwa) containing blood was placed 
on a heap of leaves with flesh from the throat, tongue and ears 
of the kill and the whole offered to the 64,000 Maralu Yaku and 
64,000 Kadawara Yaku. The leaf cone is a distinctly Sinhalese 
feature and the ceremony described by the Korala had become 
entirely Sinhalese in character. This is borne out by the 
invocation which was written down for us by the Korala. 

A tit avane le dena man tray a Kadawara Riri Yaka t a 


Vetdla miwara slndpoti bisaivun xvahansege hradaya paid bihi 
turn Kadazvera Riri Yakshayd Yakshinlta atu awanak aetun kotu 
awanak aetiin, aniii mas amu riri aetun. 

Adat mama andagasd kaepa keradenne. Mama yana issarata 
rubera an mnnayak genddin, elle pddii kera dild, vedl mune 
is{sard)ta kera dfla, amaren giyat {ci) maren pitat zvild, marana 
patkera dild, waessi langata miden ennd tvdge, kambe kanuweta 
magid aetek baenda palikera zvdge, ella pddu {ka^ ra denda 
Kadawera Riri Yakshayd Yakshlgen zvarami. 


" The invocation to Kadawara Riri Yaka and Yakini, when 
presenting blood in the shelter (made) of branches. 

"There was (on a former occasion) an (open) shelter of 
branches, there was an enclosed shelter, there were fresh meat 
and fresh blood for the Kadawara Riri Yakshaya and YakshinI, 
who having guarded (?) the pool of the General Queen at Vetala 
Nuwara (the Goblin city) became demons. 

"To-day also having summoned (you) I present the (same) 
offering. Before I go I solicit from the Kadawara Riri Yakshaya 
and YakshinI that they will bring a head with beautiful horns 
(to me), that they will make good all deficiencies, make my 
shots unerring [lit. present (the game) before the point of the 
shot], should I get into difficulty that they will overcome it, 
decree that I shall kill (game), (enable me) to approach a calf 
(fem.) like the buffalo cow comes up (to it) [i.e. without alarming 
it], rope a lucky tusk-elephant to the post, as though defending 
it (?), and that they will make good all deficiencies." 

The above transliteration and translation have been prepared 
by Mr Parker who points out that the written invocation is full 
of errors, and therefore difficult to translate, but it does not 
contain any " Vaedi expressions" and "only a few difficult 
words." We have consulted Mr Parker in the hope that he 
might be able to throw some light on the matter of the origin 
of the avana, but although his remarks are in many ways inter- 
esting and suggestive, they do not really explain the origin of 
the ceremony, though he is inclined to agree with us that the 
ceremony is of Vedda origin \ 

^ Mr Parker writes : "The Sinhalese have also some Vaedi Yakas though these 
have no connection with the eleven spirit yakas of your ceremony, who are chiefly 
protective. There are also 'Vaedi' Kadawara who are minor subordinates of the 
Kohomba (Margosa) demon or Yaka. Kadawara is a compound Tamil word meaning, 
according to a story that was related to me both in Ceylon (N.C.P.) and at the Tanjore 
temple, 'the celestial who escaped' compression by Siva the Indian god, when he 
clasped in his embrace six others created by his wife, and thus made them into the 
Kataragam God Skanda, the Indian war God, called also Kanda Kumara, with six 
faces and twehe arms." 



The translations of the invocations given in this chapter 
have been made by Mr H. Parker who has spared no pains in 
working out very compHcated and often incomplete material. 
The invocations themselves were written down by our interpreters 
to the dictation of the Veddas, and thus naturally contained 
a certain number of mistakes and contractions. These are noted 
and explained by Mr Parker, and it should be realised that the 
philological and mythological explanations appended to many 
invocations are entirely his work and are therefore placed between 
inverted commas. 

Neither the Veddas themselves, nor our interpreters, could 
give a translation of some of the invocations or even explain the 
meaning. In others no translation could be supplied and it was 
noted in the field that the meaning was probably only correct in 
a broad sense. In yet other invocations more or less accurate 
translations of the words themselves were given, but the signi- 
ficance could not be determined. Under these circumstances 
we have thought it best to give Mr Parker's translation in every 
case, indicating how this differs in sense from the version given 
us in the field in those instances in which we have reason to 
believe that our field version peculiarly expresses what our 
informants believed to be the meaning of the invocation. 

These invocations fall into two main groups ; the first, dis- 
tinguished by their simple form, are straightforward requests 
to the spirits of the dead to provide game and yams, or to show 
their loving kindness by partaking of the food provided by their 
descendants. The second group although embracing a con- 

s. V. i8 


siderable range of beliefs are all longer and more complicated, 
and often contain references to events which happened before the 
spiritual beings to whom they are addressed attained their full 
power as yakit. 

For convenience the invocations are consecutively numbered 
and grouped according to their purpose, for we believe that 
this arrangement, though not ideal, is on the whole the most 
suitable^ In each group the invocations progress from simple 
to more complicated. 

It will be noted that in many if not all of these invocations 
animals and articles of food are not mentioned by their usual 
name, but are called by some other name or described by 
a periphrasis. A special vocabulary, largely but not entirely 
the same as that used in invoking the yaku, is used by the 
Veddas when hunting and indeed whenever travelling through 
the jungle. The relation of this jungle language to the other 
languages of the island will be discussed in Chapter XV, mean- 
while it is only necessary to note that in one form or another it 
is spread over a great part of the island and that it is known by 
the name kae/e basa "jungle language." The object of the 
kaele basa has been well explained by Mr Parker who has 
allowed me to take the following quotation from the proof-sheets 
of his work Ancient Ceylon. "Strange to say, the Kandian 
Sinhalese and the Wanniyas apparently imitate the Vaeddas 
while they are hunting in the forests,... and use another series of 
expressions... for many... animals, to the exclusion of the usual 
names for them. They have acquired a belief that unless a 

1 An alternative arrangement would have been to group these invocations 
geographically; the following list will enable the reader to do this with ease. 
List of Invocations and the localities from which each were collected. 
Bandaraduwa. Nos. 7, 15, 26, 34. 
Bulugahaladena. Nos. 9, 10. 
Dambani. Nos. 1, li, 13. 
Godatalawa. Nos. 3, 5, 20, 24. 
Henebedda. Nos. 14, 19, 21. 
Kalukalaeba. No. 6. 

Sitala Wanniya. Nos. i, 11, 16, 18, 23, 27, 29, 30, 31. 32, 33, 35, 36. 
Uniche. Nos. 8, 17, 22, 28. 
Unuwatura Bubula. Nos. 25, 37. 
Wellampelle. No. 4. 


special dialect be employed while they are in the forest, they 
cannot expect to meet with any success in seeking honey, or 
hunting, or in avoiding dangerous animals. 

"This dialect... consists of the employment of new words 
not only for animals but also for a few other nouns, and for 
verbs used to denote acts most commonly performed on such 
trips. In addition, all negative (that is, unlucky) modes of 
expression are totally debarred from use on such occasions, as 
well as the words meaning ' insufficient ' and ' too much,' which 
are inauspicious as indicating dissatisfaction with the number or 
quantity to which they are applied." 

Although in some instances the word used when addressing 
the yaku is not the precise word used by the same Veddas while 
hunting it is convenient, and we think reasonable, to. regard the 
yaka language as a part of the kaele basa. 

The only other linguistic feature of these invocations that 
requires comment is the abundant use of the adjective ran 
" golden." The significance of this in a particular and somewhat 
puzzling instance is discussed in a footnote to invocation 
No. XXI, so that it suffices here to record our belief that among 
the Veddas the expression is laudatory and is the equivalent 
of " excellent," " admirable." In invocations used while 
collecting honey the expression "jewelled" is used with almost 
equal freedom, e.g. "golden jewelled cord" in invocation 
No. XXVI, and is simply to be understood as a laudatory ex- 

Invocations to the Nae Yaku. 
Sitala Wanniya. 

I. Ayu bowd. Ayii bowa. Nae kottaewe'^, nae sendivd. 
Hudu hambd welata adagaha dunnd kaewd bunnd. 
Kisi waradak sitanna epd, apit kanawa bonawd. 

Salutation ! Salutation ! Part of (our) relatives ! 

Multitude of relatives ! Having called (you) at the (right) time (we) gave 
(you) white samba (rice) ; (you) ate, (you) drank. Do not think any wrong 
(of us) ; we also eat (and) drink. 

1 Kottaewe for kottasaya, a part, section. 




II, E Iowa giya ape appd me Iowa ward. Depalullan and kalapin. 
Huda mangaccapawu kankund bota danimantia^ kabareya bota dammanna. 
Me paengiri kola aeno kalapin. Hani hanikata mangaccapawu. Atnmalaye 
aetto hudata mangaccapawu. Depatulla7i aeno kalapin^ gal miccak aeno 
kalapin., paengiri kola aeno kalapin. Kankutid bota dammanna, kabaraya 
bota dammanna tiani haniyata mangaccapaw. 

Our father who went to that world come to this world. Take the rice. 
Come quickly to place (for us) the sambar deer, to place the spotted deer. 
Take this betel leaf Come very quickly. Come quickly my mother's 
people. Take the rice, take the rock honey, take the betel leaf To place 
the sambar deer, to place the spotted deer, come very quickly. 

'^ Dcpatullan from depata, 'double' and ///rt;, ' point.' Rice is 
the grain with two points, not rounded like millet. 

" Mangacca from man, ' path,' and gassanawd, ' to strike (with 
the feet),' hence to proceed in either direction, that is, to come 
or to go. 

" Kaiikiind bota, ' the dirty-eared beast,' the sambar. The 
long ears of some animals are liable to become dirty inside with 
the wax, etc. and ticks often collect in them. Hence the appli- 
cation of the term ' the dirty-eared beast ' to the sambar. 

" Kabaraya bota, ' the spotted beast,' the axis. 

"Paengiri kola, 'sour leaf,' may include any leaf of acid 
taste for chewing, but the expression is especially applied to 
betel, as in the kaele basa. The commonest word for ' sour ' is 
aenibul but paengiri is also often used. 

''Aeno kalapin for anna {aran) kardpan, ' take.' In another 
invocation (No. IV) we have aeno kdldnna, ' I will make another's,' 
that is, ' I will present.' " 


III. Ayu bow a! Mai paennae wanna. Ada 7'akshdwak nae. Bin 
batewwa ada denta otiaeyi. Hatarak pa aettanta goyun alia de7ita onaeyi. 
Eyift paeyin pussd angiirii fnas yahanak oppu-kara detinayi. Ada raekuma 
rakshdwa bale baendala denta onaeyi. 

Salutation 1 ! Driver away of Vaeddas ^. Today (there is) no livelihood. 

^ Lit. may life he long. 

2 Mai paennae 'waund. "The word mat in another invocation of the Nae Vakd 
is evidently applied to the Vaeddas, and therefore there cannot be much doubt re- 
garding the meaning, here and elsewhere, of the expression mat paennae wanna, when 


Today you must give wild brinjal ; you must allow the four-footed persons^ 
to catch iguanas. Having roasted (part) of them in an hour^, I will make 
and give (you an offering of) an altar (furnished with) meat (fried on) 
charcoal^. Today (you) must furnish (and) give protection (and) livelihood 
by (your) power. 


IV. Depatullan aeno kdlantia, paengiri kola aeno kaldnna, gal tnlcciyak 
aetio kaldniia appalaye aettanna mori ydnak aeno kdldhfia. Kankund maye 
ekata aeno kdldpa adana iti bota damd. 

I will present rice, I will present betel leaf, I will present rock honey, 
I will present an altar for the dead to (my) father's people. Make over as 
mine the sambar, having placed (for me) the wearing-spikes beast (i.e. the 

"Aef/o kdldnna for Anya karanfia, I will make another's, that 
is, I will present or make over. 

'■'Mori, from root mri (Skt) to die. 
" Ydnak for YahanakJ' 

It was stated that the following invocation was said to 
determine whether the deceased had attained power as a yaka. 

V. Hdtnaduruivd, A hit mal paennae wanna, haskain tiyenawd haebae 
nam eka wal mandiyak ival mardgana ena weldta ?nata gawara tndgallck 
hambawenda onae. Me unkiri daluwata, mal paennae Wanna, eli bdnaiud. 

Lord, New Driver away of Vaeddas, if it be true that there are miracles*, 
killing one wild iguana in the jungle at the time while coming I must meet 
with a sambar deer. (Be pleased) to drink-', Driver away of Vaeddas, this 
young coconut". 

applied to the spirit of the recent dead. Dr Seligmann learnt that the cave in which 
a Vaedda has died is avoided by his relatives as a residence for several years after- 
wards ; and this appears to afford a satisfactory explanation of the expression." 

1 Dog?, a kaele bdsa term. 

^ The Sinhalese unit of time here translated "hour" has a duration of twenty 

'^ Lit. charcoal meat altar. 

* "The words haskain tiyenawd haebae nam ' if it be true that there are miracles ' 
were explained to Dr Seligmann as signifying ' if it is true that you have attained 
power (or become powerful) as a yaka.' " 

^ '^ eli bdnau'd means 'having thrown down (the throat), to swallow.' In the 
kaele basa, kota bdnawd, which means 'to eat,' is literally 'having chopped, to 
swallow.' " 

" Unkiri daliiwa is 'the bud deficient in milk,' that is, the young coconut before 
the ' milk ' is formed in it. " 



VI. Ayibo tainunnanse raekima rakshawa laebenna onae yana iaenata 
ena taenata ehen kiri dalu itirenna wage maha 7naede^ warakan ennd wage 
raekima rakshawa diyunu diyumc karala denna onae. 

Hail. You must (cause us) to receive protection and means of support 
while going and returning. As the young shoot springs up from the eye (of 
the seed), as the south-west wind comes (causing) great delight, you must 
bestow two-fold two-fold protection and maintenance. 


VII. Willi ft mardl nangi si id, gangln mardl nangit si to, pcliyen peliyata 
willito no bin no bin kiyanno. Ayiyo Deyyd. 

From the pool the Brahmany kite has risen, from the river the Brahmany 
kite has also risen, from line to line at the pool (i.e. flying round it in circles) 
saying "no place, no place." Alas ! O God. 

'' M drain is a kaele bdsa word for the Brahmany kite. Its 
cry is said by villagers to be no bin, no bin, one meaning of which 
is 'improper,' which does not appear to be suitable in this 
invocation. 'There is no place for me now' seems to be the 
meaning. The spirit of the deceased is compared to the kite 
which is accustomed to circle round high above the water, 
uttering this cry." 


VIII. Pelaka nagd mar ana gat, pelaka gangi mardna gat wilita 
sitagana no bin kiydlo. 

IVanni allapu diiriu kanu ital simin siniitat no bin kiydlo. 

Me godanwala goda tarana mal kadanna kadanna ntal adu welu. 
Ayiyo, Deyiyd. 

The part (?of the dead) whom the cobra killed, (and) the part whom the 
river killed, having said "^There is) no place (for us)," are stopping at 

the pool-. 

The bow-sticks (and) arrows- seized in the Wanni (the forest), having 
said "(There is) no place (for them," go) from boundary to boundary (Pin 
other people's possession). 

(Through) continuing to break, in these lands, the Vaeddas* that pass 
over the land, the Vaeddas* have diminished. Alas, God I 

1 Maede is the genitive case of mada, "pleasure," " delight," " rejoicing." 

2 " The context may possibly imply that the spirits of those who die of snake-bite 
or drowning are left to fly about like the kites, as homeless shades, that is z.% preta.'" 

3 " This doubtless refers to the bows and arrows of the deceased." 

4 "The word here translated Vaeddas usually means 'flowers.' It is however 
quite clear that it is also used to mean 'Vaeddas,' cf. invocation No. III." 



IX. Dematamali Dematamald Kotakaecci uccumbaye tndhatnmd, uccum- 
baye mdhappd depatullan pojja tiidld weda mdl puccal topanta aeno kdlae 
we topaenut kaepallawu. 

Dematamali and Dematamala, excellent Great Mother (and) excellent 
Great Father of Kotakacciya, (we) having washed rice in a pot (and) having 
roasted meat shot with the arrow, may they be made over to you. Eat ye 

" Uccumbaye for usaba, excellent. 

" Kotakaecci appears to be the name of a place. 

" PoJja for pocca, pot. 

" Weda for vaidya or vidha. 

" Mdl for main, meat. 

" Puccal for pulussald, roasted." 

" Dematamali and Dematamala are two flower names, which 
like numerous others in Sinhalese are used as personal names. 
Dematamala means flower of the demata tree {Gmelina asiatica) 
the last vowel being lengthened by the addition oi a, as is usual 
in personal names. Dematamali is simply the feminine form." 

X. Dematamali uccumbaye md ammd, Dematainald Kotakaecci uccum- 
baye maha appa kafikundwa^ kabareya, hocca dikkd, tnuftdi, perumd, gayi 
bokka md maeda aeno kalapa aena baccapa. 

Dematamali, excellent Great Mother, Dematamala excellent Great Father 
of Kotakacciya, make over (and) take (and) send down (to us) the sambar, 
the axis deer, the pig, the iguana (fem.), the large buffalo (?), (and beehives) 
inside trees hollow (and) large. 

" Hocca dikkd, ' the long-snouted one.' 

" Mundi is the fem. of mimdd, the noosed one. 

"Perumd. This word is doubtful. It has the form of a 
kaele bdsa word like the others, and thus must be descriptive 
of the animal ; it may mean 'the large Great one.' 

" Gayi, pi. oi gd, tree. 

" The word for beehives, maehikaeli gam, has been omitted." 

Sitala Wanniya. 

XI. Aro rajo Kappun selliya penena, nillin anduru deyiyd Aluta 
Wanniye, tanidge kanata tanapi katie kadukkan kanamaediran se dilennaiv 
balamia duwana warew, Aluta IVanniye. 


Kapunselliya (Monkeys' Hill) appears (like) the king of health (?), the god 
dark with verdure, O New Wanniya. The ear-rings made for his ears shine ^ 
like fire-flies. Come running to look (at it), O New Wanniya. 

Mr Parker writes : " This invocation is a poetical description 
of Monkeys' Hill, on which the fire-flies remind the reciter of 
shining ear-rings. The speaker of the invocation hopes by his 
glowing description to attract the 'new spirit.'" Our informants 
at Sitala Wanniya stated that Kapunselliya was a hill on the 
far side of Walimbagala (Friar's Hood) where their ancestors 
gathered honey. They said that the invocation first stated that 
Kapunselliya was dark, and they informed us that this was due 
to mist or fog. The invocation then appealed to the spirit 
invoked as " new Wanniya," asking that he should come running 
to see the ear-rings which had been prepared for his ears and 
which shone like fire-flies. In spite of the more practical appeal 
made to the Nae Yaka according to the Vedda version, this 
account coincides in essentials with Mr Parker's translation, 
since both agree that the object of the invocation is to attract 
the spirit of the deceased. 

XII. Urdgamat ga?Jta Aejnbiilogamat gama ive aeta kehela7t watte, paela 
kehelan watte waetten de waetta kola wihuduwana parakktiwayi. Me parak- 
kuwa viilaine nild e Kambura galata waedatd pilunmvan paid idinnd weda. 

On some occasions (lit. from occasion to two occasions) in the wild 
plantain garden and the house (i.e. cultivated) plantain garden at both 
Urogama village and Aembulogama there is delay in the unfolding of the 
leaves. On account of this delay will the chief Nlla having proceeded to 
that Kambura-gala, by the great amount of (his) skill cause the trees to fruit 
and the fruit to ripen ? 

We give this invocation with all reserve. As stated else- 
where in this volume the Dambani folk are village Veddas 
accustomed to parade their " wildness," and it was difficult to 
work with them, so that it is not improbable that this formula 
has really nothing to do with the Nae Yaku. These remarks 
apply equally to the following invocation (No. XIli). Mr Parker 
suggests the possibility that it implied "that as the chief Nlla 
could twice preserve the plantain trees he might have preserved 
the Vaeddas if he wished." 

1 "Wrongly put in the Imperative mood." 


XIII. Ace nidana ^anna nedenne Acakala Devi visin tama, polawe 
mihi kata ganna tiedenne polawe Mihikat Devi visin tama^ kiri bona 
waccata botina nedenne Kande Alut Devi visin tamCi. 

Sat mude e dese sita tne deseta enneda nalali palagana bo lali ena 
■welemo, udu wiyan baendagana wata wiyan baendagana ennamo no weyi. 
Ran anduwa elin toran ate elanno ward deva rode allagana ennamo. Eluwan 
allanno gawuran allan hossa dikka allanno enmo newe. 

To take the hidden treasure of the sky is not permitted by the Goddess 
(of the sky) Akasakala herself ; on the earth to take the gems of the earth is 
not permitted by the Goddess of the earth, Mahikantawa herself; the milk 
drinking calf is not permitted to drink, by the new Goddess of the hill 

Are you coming from that country of the Seven Seas to this country, 
having split the forehead (i.e. made your appearance out of the forehead), 
and shaking violently at the very time when you come? You will not come 
(? unless we) have tied clothes overhead and have tied side cloths (at the 
shed or maduwd). Come and hold in your hand ornamental arches {toran) 
in which is suspended a golden chain. You will come holding a divine 
wheel (?). Goat catchers, sambar deer catchers, pig catchers will not come 
(i.e. to ask your assistance on this occasion). 

" A ce for dkdse, in the sky. 

" Kata appears to equal Kdntah, a gem ; or it is derived from 
the root k/ian, dig, excavate. 

" IVacca for wassd, calf. 

"Anduwa for andu, chain. 

"Rode may be rodaya, a vi'heel, but it does not occur else- 
where, and the meaning is doubtful. 

" Hossa dikka, ' long snout,' a kae/e bdsa word for pig." 

With the possible exception of the reference to the " New 
Goddess of the Hill" which may refer to one of the Maha 
Yakini (Kiriamma), there is nothing in this invocation belong- 
insf to the Vedda form of belief, and we do not doubt that 
the whole formula has been taken over from foreign sources. 
Mr Parker writes that he has "no knowledge of Akasakala, the 
Sky Goddess," but that " Mahi-kantawa is well known as the 
personification of the earth, literally ' Earth ' {mahi), ' woman ' 

The appearance of divine children by other means than birth 
per vias nattirales is a common Hindu belief of which Mr Parker 
cites the following instances: " Ayiyanar, the son of MohinI, 


an incarnation of Vishnu, is said in Ceylon and India to 

have appeared from Vishnu's hand there is the well known 

story of the production of the four castes from the body of 


The heading of this invocation Pattiwelata Panikki Yakd 
makuta kiyana kavi signifies " Song sung for the cattle herds to 
Panikki Yaka the Chief" i:\i^ yaka invoked is the spirit of the 
sixteenth century chief Panikki Vedda, whose history is given in 
Chapter I. To some extent this invocation bridges the gap 
between the nameless Nae Yaku and the Vedda heroes, though 
it is obvious that the worship of Panikkia Yaka is allied 
to the Bandara cult to which we have alluded elsewhere. 
Our informants, however, did not regard Panikkia Yaka as a 

XIV. Asa guru kapayi^ Sola topa yaluwd. 
Polo guru kapayi, Bola topa ydlunva. 
Gasajinct sulaninayi, Bola topa yaluwd. 
Igalennet pa{n)claralmayi, Bola topa yaluwd. 

Kasd irata pifen ira kendi adinuawu ddinnawu, 
Muna muna pdrakkuda, Ntlame N'lld ? 

Kudd ?iaenbi raid itaewatun, bdlannada, bdlannada? 
Kudd naetibi raelat kodimaeyi, Bola topd ydluwd. 
Mahd naenbi raelo naewatun bdlannada Bola topd ydluwd ? 
Madd naenbi raelet kode Bola topd ydluwd. 

Dunna gatat sonda widanian, Panikkiyd. 
Polla gatat sonda naewatun., Panikkiyd. 
Manda gatat sonda bandaman, Patiikkiyd. 
Ada metauata eyi, Gombara Panikkiya. 

1 This is given in the Purana as follows (Wilson's translation, p. 44) : " Formerly, 
oil best of Brahmans, when the truth-meditating Brahma was desirous of creating the 
world, there sprang from his mouth beings specially endowed with the quality of 
goodness; others from his breast, ...others from his thighs, ...and others from his 

The Vishnu Purana records (p. 50) that when Brahma found that his mind-born 
progeny were unsuitable for peopling the world, "he was filled with wrath capable of 
consuming the three worlds, the flame of which invested, like a garland, heaven, earth, 
and hell. Then from his forehead, darkened with angry frowns, sprang Rudra, 
radiant as the noon-tide sun, fierce, of vast bulk, and of a figure which was half male, 
half female." 


The sky is becoming purple, O thou Friend ! 

The earth is becoming purple, O thou Friend ! 

Blows even the wind also, O thou Friend ! 

Even the small birds are flying also, O thou Friend ! 

From behind the yellow sun, draw, draw the sun's rays. 
What is the (reason of the) delay, Chief Nlla? 

Shall I look, shall I look if a small heifer has stopped in the herd ? 

(that is, is in the herd). 
Even a small heifer is not in the herd, O thou Friend ! 
Shall I look if a large heifer has stopped in the herd, O thou Friend? 
A large heifer is also not in the herd, O thou Friend ! 

Should he take the bow, he is able to shoot well, the Panikkiya. 
Should he take the cudgel, he is good at stopping (the buffaloes), the 

Should he take the noose, he is able to tie well, the Panikkiya. 
Today he will come here, the speckled Panikkiya. 

Invocations to Kande Yaka and Bilindi Yaka. 

With a single exception (No. XXIII) all these invocations are 
recited in order to procure game. No. XV was sung whilst 
dancing round an arrow struck in the ground as is described in 
Chapter ix. 

The remainder (with the exception of No. XXIII already 
noted) are sung at the kirikof-aha ceremony. Although the 
invocations used at the kirikoraha ceremony present almost 
every stage of development, and some invocations such as 
Nos. XVIII and XXII are obviously composed of fragments 
belonging to different strata of belief, in every case the yaku 
called upon are the spirits of Kande Wanniya and his brother 

No. XXIII is especially interesting, as it shows that such 
powerful foreign spirits as Riri Yaka and Indigollae Yaka when 
adopted into the Vedda system assumed Vedda characteristics, 
and so became subject to Kande Yaka. 


XV. Kande sita Kandakato nd kola andan 
Bo kola aftdan itala fand 
Sonda sonda gal ga-warunge piyen piyaiia 
On yanne niaya kande mul pola Wanniya. 


Having made arrow-heads of the shape of Na leaves, 

Of the shape of Bo leaves, from hill to hill, 

From foot-(print) to foot-(print) of excellent sambar deer. 

There (he) goes, my Wanniya of the Chief Place of the hill. 

Mr Parker explains that the "chief place of the hill" is its 
crest or summit, but in every case in which the expression Kande 
mid pola Wanniya occurred in an invocation our informants 
explained that the expression was one of the names of Kande 
Yaka, and they clearly regarded these words as constituting 
a proper name. Wanniya is a common constituent of Vedda 
names, and has something of the significance of chief or leader. 
Mr Parker points out that it means "he of the Wanni" or "he of 
the forest track," and that it is a title given to Vedda chiefs in 
former times. Mr Parker considers this invocation important, 
" since it shows that the arrow heads were of two shapes, a 
narrow one with nearly parallel sides (resembling the leaf of the 
na tree or ironwood) like some Sinhalese arrows, and a broader 
one (resembling the bo leaf"). At the present day the heads of 
Vedda arrows are long and relatively narrow, that is, roughly of 
the shape of a leaf of the nd tree. We have not seen any arrow 
heads whose shape recalled the leaf of the bo tree. 

Invocation to Kande Yaka at the Kirikoraha 


Sitala Wanniya. 

XVI. Kandaka si fa kaiidakata yanna yanna kandu niriitdu waesi 
wasinnaw. Reranne damane sila kande damaneta sonda sotida gal-gawa- 
runiie piyen piya kurippi elayanna kande inul pala Wanniya. 

King of the Hills, who continues to go from hill to hill, cause rain ^ (He 
is) the Wanniya of the Chief place of the hill, who causes to fall the hoofs of 
excellent sambar deer, from foot (prmt) to foot (print), from Reranne Damane 
(the grass plain of teals) to Kande Damane (the grass plain of the hill)^. 

" Nirindu from nara and indra, a poetical expression meaning 
' chief of men.' It is never used colloquially by Sinhalese. 
" Ktirippi = kiirippu (Tamil) ' mark,' ' traces.' " 

' " Lit. rain rain." 

* "These names signify respectively ' the grass plain of the teal' and ' the grass 
plain of the hill.' Dr Seligmann was told that these hills teemed with game though 
on inquiry it appeared that no man had visited them or knew their situation." 

invocations 285 

Invocation to Kande Yaka at the Kirikoraha 



XVII. Me kanda pita yanna yanna me kande inul polaWanniyayi. Me 
guru poda nili poda waesi wahinna wahinna honda honda 7nagallatine piyen 
adi tora yanne kanded mul pola Wanniyd. 

It is the Wanniya of the chief place (crest) of this hill who continues to 
go onto this hill. The Wanniya of the chief place of the hill, who continues to 
cause (lit. to rain) this rain of great drops, drops from a dense (cloud), makes 
out foot-print by foot-(print) of excellent sambar deer. 

Invocation to Bilindi Yaka at Kirikoraha 


Sitala Wanniya. 

XVI I I. An aeti dese nan naeti gona a tin alia dena saeti Bilindi Rajo. 
Tandena tanina tana tandena tdnine. Masd mdyd mudu tnaedde e ran 
kodiyaki suwaniine. 

Like (one) catching with (his) hand and giving the nameless sambar 
deer in the country where there are horns, (is) King Bilindi. Tandena tanina 
tana tandena tanine. There is a golden flag in the midst of the sea full of 
fish, O Lord ! 

We consider that this invocation is certainly corrupt; further 
there can be no doubt that it should refer to an unnamed 
country and a horned sambar, as in invocation No. XXII, 
where, as pointed out by Mr Parker, the "unnamed country" is 
the applicant's own country which it was unnecessary for him to 

Dedication of flesh and rice to Kande Yaka and 

Bilindi Yaka'. 


XIX. Ayibohoivd^ dyibohowd. Kande haeta hat kattnwakata ndyakawtl 
Kande niulpola alut deyiyanndnsheta Kande Watiniydtaj Kan Miran 
Watiniydta, Miran alut deyiyanndnsheta j Dahcmura Wanniydta, Dalumura 

1 This was recited at Henebedda over the food the dedication of which we have 
described on p. 220. Plate XXVIII, fig. 2 is a reproduction of a photograph taken 
while the shaman dedicated the food. 


alut deyiyannansheta ; Ru adukku Wanniydta, Ru adtikku alut deyiyan- 
ndmsetaj Dadayan Wanniydfa, Dadayan alut deyiyanndnisheta ; B Hindi 
Wan?iiydta, Bilindi alut deyiyanndnsheta. Adat man me oppii karadena ru 
adukkuwata tamunndnseld isareti wedi'saren kokdsaren piyd'saren diwas 
karund karagena tni dada ivaedddta aeli gawarun gal gawarun atin alld di 
imuneta wedimune awu karawd detida yahapoti. Ayibohowd, dyibohowd. 

Long life, long life to Kande Wanniya, to the new god of the chief place 
of the hill who has become the chief of the Group of the Sixty-Seven of the 
Hill ; to Kan Miran Wanniya, to the new god Miran ; to Dalumura 
Wanniya, to the new god Dalumura ; to Ru adukku Wanniya, to the new 
god Ru adukku ; to Dadayan Wanniya, to the new god Dadayan ; to Bilindi 
Wanniya, to the new god Bilindi. 

Today, also, granting your divine favour to the beautiful cooked food of 
this offering which I give, as quickly as an arrow, as quickly as a gunshot, 
as quickly as an egret, as quickly as flying, having caught with the hand and 
given to this hunting Vaedda axis deer and sambar, may it seem good (to 
you) to arrange them at the point of the arrow, at the point of the gun-shot, 
and give (them there). Long life, long life ! 

"The ' Group of the Sixty-seven,' the Haeta-hat Katpiwa, is 
well-known in the North-western Province. These are nearly all 
Bandara or deified chiefs. Though still called ' the Sixty- 
seven,' their number is now well over a hundred. 

"Kan Miran Wanniya and his three associates are the 
subordinates or the attendants on Kande Yaka. I cannot 
explain the duties of Kan Miran Wanniya; Dalumura Wanniya 
is the one who presents Kande Yaka with betel; Ru Adukku 
Wanniya presents him with cooked food, and Dadayan Wanniya 
kills game for him. 

" Wedi is the word always used for a gun-shot by Sinhalese 
and Tamils; also for the explosion of the charge when blasting." 

XX. Hdt Bilindevatdwd anguru mas yahana baldgalld. 
Kande Wanniyd anguru mas yahana baldgalld. 
Dalumuru Wanniyd anguru mas ya/uina baldgalld. 
Puluttd anguru mas yahana baldgalld. 
Riddc Wanniyd anguru mas yahana baldgalld. 

Seven Bilindi godlings, look at the altar of meat (fried on) charcoal. 
Kande Wanniya, look at the altar of meat (fried on) charcoal. 
Dalumura Wanniya, look at the altar of meat (fried on) charcoal. 
Pulutta, look at the altar of meat ("fried on) charcoal. 
Ridde Wanniya, look at the altar of meat (fried on) charcoal. 


This formula was given us by an old man Handuna of 
Godatalawa, both as a dedication of food to Kande Yaka, and 
an invocation asking for game. We cannot explain the ex- 
pression Hat Bilindevatdwd; to Handuna it was a synonym for 
Bilindi, and he assured us that the first line was addressed to 
Bilindi Yaka. Mr Parker points out that Pulutta may mean 
" fried meat Wanniya " and Ridde Wanniya, " the Wanniya 
who caused pain," If this be so Pulutta must be regarded as 
the Wanniya who fried meat for Kande Yaka \ We can offer no 
suggestion as to the significance of the expression "the Wanniya 
who caused pain." 

Invocation to Bilindi Yaka at the Kirikoraha 



Sung while the shaman dances with a coconut and ande as 
shown in Plate XXIX, figs, i and 2. 

XXI. Tandana, fdntna, tana tandena; tandana tdnina tdnind. 

Appiiga wayasat boso awi{ri)di naeti, sat awuruddayi pasu line. 
Sat awiiruddeta edde weld gos e ran Bandara., Sdnime. 
Tandana tdnitia tana tandena; tandana tdnina tdftind. 

Appusdmita iviyapu kacciya piyun ddsayi, Sdmine. 
Appiisdmita wiyapu ptituwe piyun ddsayi, Sdmine. 
Elatnal kira md ae7idapu kacciya sana ganga raeli vihidune. 
Tandana tdnina tana tandena j tandana tdnina tdnind. 

Kavi kiyandat baye baeri mata, udahasak ivat weda ? dyiyo ! 
Nan naeti baedde an aeti gona dten alld dena Saiudtni. 
Kanda udin daeniu sulan nillata miwan ka7idule?i teme mine. 
Kuse upan nubema nialayd maeruwe mujta tanikamatada, Nayide 
Kuse upan nube malayat aeragena sellan karapaji, Nayide 
An aeti gaward alld dena heki Maenik-taldwe Bilindi deviyo. 

Tandatia etc. 

The age of the Chief's Son was not many years ; seven years had gone by. 

A time equal to seven years having gone (he became) the Forest Chief, 

O Lord. 
Tandana etc. 

^ There is another possibility ; on the analogy of the ai'ana ceremony described 
at the end of this chapter it may be suggested that Pulutta was held to be the first 
Vedda to offer fried meat at this ceremony. We do not consider this probable 


There were a thousand flowers on the cloth woven for the Chief's Son, 

O Lord ! 
There were a thousand flowers on the seat plaited for the Chiefs Son, 

O Lord! 
The cloth he wore, worked with elamal flowers and the parrot (?), like the 

waves of the river is spread out. 
Tandatia etc. 

Through fear I cannot sing songs (properly). Will there be any anger (on 

account of it) 1 Alas ! 
The (rain) wind which he sent down from above the hill to the verdure is 

wetting with tears the face 
(Of) the Lord who in the nameless jungle catches with his hands and gives 

the sambar deer possessing horns. 
For what (fear of) solitude did (you) kill your own younger brother born of 

the same mother, O Nayide.'' 
Taking your younger brother born of the same mother play games (with 

him), O Nayide. 
(Addressing Bilindi) You are able to catch and give sambar deer possessing 

horns, O God Bilindi of Maenik-talawa. 

The words rari Banddra which are here translated Forest 
Chief might also mean Golden Chief. As already stated it 
appears to us that in the majority of these invocations the 
adjective "golden" is used to signify "excellent" or "admirable," 
but concerning this Mr Parker writes : 

''Ran as an adjective almost always means 'golden,' but 
in such a case ought to be spelt with n. I inserted preferentially 
' Forest ' in this case, as there is no reason given why he should 
suddenly become golden. I should generally understand 'golden' 
to mean ' of a golden nature or colour ' ; I do not think it would 
ever be applied to a person or deity who is dark coloured, 
however excellent he might be. I have heard a path termed 
' like gold ' by way of emphasising its excellence, but it is very 
unusual to employ it with this meaning." 

In spite of the weight that must be attached to Mr Parker's 
opinion we do not agree with him in this matter, and in support 
of our opinion adduce the expression "golden jewelled cord" in 
invocation No. XXVL We may also mention that in the 
invocation to Kosgama Bandara, the hero's corpse is described 
as " golden V 

^ Cf. Man, 1909, where is given the translation of the invocation used in calling 
upon Kosgama for assistance. 


Mr Parker points out that in line 7 nid may stand for mahd 
or niasd, sewn. Line 12 may be understood in two ways 
according to whether we read " For what (fear of) soHtude," etc., 
or " For what need of solitude," etc. According to one account 
Kande Yaka killed his younger brother Bilindi because he felt 
lonely as a yaka and yearned for his company. This was the 
legend we heard at Henebedda, but another version makes 
Kande Wanniya kill his infant brother in a fit of temper because 
Bilindi being hungry annoyed him by constant whining. The 
thirteenth line, in which Kande Yaka is addressed as Nayide, 
suggests that the Henebedda version of the legend is here 
referred to in the preceding line. We were told that Nayide 
was here used as a name for Kande Yaka but could not discover 
the reason for this. Mr Parker points out that in Sinhalese 
nayide simply means artificer. 

Invocation to Bilindi Yaka at the Kirikoraha 



XXII. Kapd maettik gal obid, bapata lela-didl tafnd, ela kirala aendapic 
kacciya sema raelipata vihi-duna. Appiige^ wayasat boho kalak aeti tun 
awuruddayi pasit wune. Nan naeti dese, an aeti gond alia denawada 
Bilindi Raja. 

Having cut the Gem-rock thereby himself removing the command 
(regarding it), like the folds of the waves are spread out is the bleached cloth 
he wore. It will be a long time since three years of the Chief's son's age 
passed. In the unnamed country will you catch and give a sambar deer 
with horns, King Bilindi .'' 

This invocation obviously consists of two parts, embodying 
ideas belonging to very different strata of thought. The last 
sentence requires no more than a reference to invocation 
No. XVIII, to explain "the unnamed country." The sentence 
before this refers to the belief that, Bilindi was three years old 
when Kande Yaka killed him. Probably these two sentences 
belong to the same stratum of belief, and certainly the Veddas 
understood what they meant. It was otherwise with regard 
to the first part of this invocation, our informants could not tell 

1 Appu for Appuhami, the former title of the son of a chief. 

s. v. 19 


US what this meant or even translate it, though our interpreter 
stated that he thought it had something to do with the dress 
of the yaka. Clearly this part of the invocation is foreign, and 
Mr Parker suggests that since Bilindi means " the child " there 
is " a possibility that he is Ayiyanar, the guardian Forest Deity 
of Ceylon, who is represented at Tanjore as a youth. Bilindi is 
said by Nevill to be the son of the (Indigollaewa) Kiri Amma, 
who is identified by the Sinhalese as Mohini, a female personifi- 
cation of V^ishnu ; and Ayiyanar is the son of Mohini." This is 
supported by the reference to the Gem-rock, for as Mr Parker 
writes " the Kiri Amma split the sapphire gem at the sapphire 
mountain." Thus in the later part of the invocation, Ayiyanar 
may have been assimilated to Bilindi Yaka. 

Invocation with bow to determine what Yaka has 

CAUSED illness. 

Sitala "Wanniya. 

XXIII. Ayibowil, dyibowCi. Tumma?ikada suwamin wahansa gal 
penata^ tUinu petiata^ suba penata ahu karala denda onae. Maye penata enda 
OJiae. Kande Wanniya boru pena at-haera leda kala yaka tnata ada ahu 
karawanda ofiae. Riri Yaka Indilegolle Yaka, Rdhu Yakutt, Patta Yakun, 
me suba penata ahu karala denda onae. 

Long life ! Long life ! Lord of Tamankaduwa, through (my) stones' 
soothsaying, through bows' soothsaying, through auspicious soothsaying, 
(you) must catch and give (him). Through my soothsaying, (he) must come. 
Kande Wanniya, having laid aside false soothsaying, (you) must cause me 
to seize today the Yaka who caused the sickness. (Whether) Riri Yaka, 
Indilegolle Yaka\ Rahu Yaku, or Patta Yaku, through this auspicious 
soothsaying (you) must seize and give (him). 

Riri Yaka or Siri Yaka is the blood demon of the Sinhalese. 
The Rahu Yaku appear to correspond to the Sinhalese demon 
Rahu Yaka"-. We consider this invocation important as it definitely 
expresses what we found to be the general opinion among the 

^ Clearly a slip for Indigollae Yaka. 

^ He was originally an Asura who surreptitiously drank some of the amrita 
produced by the Gods and Demons. Mohini cut off his head, but it had become 
immortal and was transformed into the planetary sign (personified) which causes 
eclipses by trying to swallow the sun and moon because they drew the attention of 
Mohini to him. For the substance of this note we are indebted to Mr Parker. 


wilder Veddas. Kande Yaka is called upon to help, he is the 
spirit of a dead Vedda, one of themselves, and would never 
be suspected of sending sickness. It is only the stranger who 
brings evil things. But Kande Yaka is more powerful than the 
foreign yakii and by his help it is discovered which of them has 
caused sickness. In the field we found reason to believe that 
Indigollae Yaka and Riri Yaka and the Rahu Yaku were foreign 
in origin, we did not however suspect Patta Yaka, but Mr Parker 
says, " The Patta Yaku are diseases personified, and are male 
and female. The Sinhalese enumerate twelve or eighteen called 
Gara (m.) or Girl (f.) ; of these two are Patta Gara and Patta 
Girl. They especially afflict women and children." 

Invocations used while collecting Honey. 


XXIV. Alut devi hatnuduruwd^ maehikeli gamak pennanta onae ada. 
Kotala hangati yanhan. 

Lady New Goddess, (you) must show (me) a bee-hive today. Having 
chopped (it out) I will hide (it) and go. 

Mr Parker suggests that the honey gatherer "hints to the 
Goddess that he and she will divide the honey between them, 
unknown to the other Vaeddas and that thus she will obtain 
a larger share than usual." This would be quite contrary to 
Vedda ethics, and it seems to us more probable that the honey 
is hidden in order to prevent the bees carrying it away. The 
gatherer might well be fatigued after his exertions and would 
certainly not attempt to rest in the immediate neighbourhood of 
the bees he had robbed, nor would he leave the honey exposed 
where it would attract the bees, 

Unuwatura Bubula. 

XXIV A. Raja Omungalliye 

Me gurwwen Anima. 
Guru bale 7'akifta 
Me waewael kapdla bassala 
Duni paliyen pannald 
Kaduwen kapdla 

19 — 2 


Paliyata damala 
Alirae miriya paeni genaedin 
Genen gemn badagini 
Aerenna kanna. 

O Omungalla Sovereign I 

Mother — by this respect (paid to you) — 

Who protects (us) by (your) great authority 1 

Having cut and lowered the (ladder of) great cane, 

Having driven off (the bees) by the shield of smoke. 

Having cut (the comb) with the sword, 

Having put (it) down into the vessel, 

Having fetched the sweetest honey ^. Bring (it), 

Bring (it) {ox us) to eat, to lay aside (our) hunger. 

Nevill has recorded a very similar invocation which he 
obtained from a Vedda of Wahmbagala (^Friar's Hood)-. He 
also records the following invocation which was given him by a 
Vedda of Omuni. 

Maehi-keli Waniya 
Gal naewili Waniya 
Maehi kelanne niaehi urdl 
Hind-tnaten keli kopayen 
Oppu ganauid tobd deyiyen. 

Bee Wanniya, 

Wanniya of rock worship 1 

(Ofj the honey-comb of the bees, 

Laughing at the anger of the bees, 

Be pleased to take the offering, 

O thou from the Gods ! 

The above translation has been prepared by Mr Parker and 
is rather more literal than either of Nevill's translations, for he 
gives two. That printed below shows " the sense that the 
construction and words of this invocation convey '"' to a Vedda. 

" Oh Lord of the Bees : 
Oh Lord of the Rock ! 
Honeycombs of honey bee, 
With laughter and with merriness, 
I oft'er them to Thee.'' 

^ Or " sweet honey like toddy." 
* Op. cit. Vol. II, p. 127. 


Nevill records that " after each Hne " his informant " threw 
a little honey, the first cut from the cliff, to the Spirit of the 
Rock, and then proceeded to take the rest of the combs. He 
told me it was an ancient custom his ancestors followed, called 
' paeni adina yadinda,' or to ' charm the drawing of honey.' " 


XXV. Bori, Bori, Wafintye. 

Nilivan paliya neden kiya, e kimata katfi ipal welen gaca widiniiayi kiya 
daelen daelata. Aendun waeti enni maye kumala IVanmye. 

Eke inokat kodeyi kzyd, daelen daelata katu tpal gasa widinm wldinni. 

Diya aendu7i waetigena yandomo yatini nan yatmi. 

Mai aendun waetigena yanni nan yanni. 

Guru aendun waetigena yandomo yannt nam yan?n. 

Ela aendun waetigena yandotno yanni nam yanni. 

Aenga wCite baendlgena yandomo yanni nam yanni. 

The translation of the heading of this invocation is " Stanza 
said by Veddas when cutting bambara on a hill or tree." 

(Their sound is) bori., bori., O Wanniya ' ! 

When (I) said 2, "(I) will not give (you) the dark-coloured vessel^" (con- 
taining the honey), at that remark company by company (of bees) said, 
"From (this) time, having beaten (you as if with) thorny rods, (we) will 
pierce" (you with our stings). (My) clothes are falling off (on account of the 
stinging), O my dear Wanniya ! 

When (I) said "There is nothing in it" (the vessel), company by company 
(of bees) having beaten (me as if with) thorny rods are piercing, are piercing 
(me with their stings). 

(My) watered clothes (i.e. cloth with waved pattern) falling off, (I) am 
indeed setting off to go, (I) am going. 

(My) flowered clothes falling off, 1 am indeed going, I am going. 

(My) dark clothes falling off, I am indeed setting off to go, I am going. 

(My) white clothes falling off, I am indeed setting off to go, I am going. 

Tying (the clothes) round (my) body I am indeed setting off to go, I am 

" Maligi is presumably vidlim, a form of stanza. 

^ Bori, bori is onomatopoeic of the humming of bees. 

^ Lit. "having said." 

3 Mr Parker considers that iiihvan paliya should be translated "blue-coloured" 
but that it may also mean " black " or " dark-coloured." As the result of our examina- 
tion of the colour sense and colour names of the Veddas detailed in Chapter xiv we 
are convinced that in the present instance "dark-coloured " is the correct reading. 


" Pdliya, a vessel. The word occurs with this meaning in 
another invocation. 

" Kmnala, that is kamala, tender. 

" Yaiidomo yanni for ymidama yanne, a common expression 
in Sinhalese. 

^' Aendun (properly aeuduui), 'clothes,' is in the plural, and 
means much more than a loin cloth, A European's dress — the 
various articles collectively — is called aendtim. 

" Guru often applied to a purple sky may also mean ' ex- 
cellent'; perhaps it might here mean dark." 

This is one of the invocations of which we obtained no 
satisfactory translation in the field. Mr Parker holds that "the 
whole invocation is devoted to explaining to the Wanniya the 
suppliant's urgent need of his assistance, without which he will 
be compelled to abandon the work." 

We consider it far more probable that the honey collector is 
essentially talking at the bees while apparently talking to the 
Wanniya and his companions at the top of the crag^ While 
helping himself to the honey he explains — for the benefit of the 
bees — that having heard their determination to sting him, he 
was hurrying away in such haste that his clothes are falling 
from him, notwithstanding that he has told the bees that there 
is nothing, i.e. no honey, in his collecting pot. 

Invocation before taking Bambara honey, sung by a 

MAN as he is lowered OVER THE CLIFF. 


XXVI. Tobd deyiyani^ tobd deyiyani, alitt mala upan naewini sendwa 
hiteii, hamddiye?!, maehikellatme maehi iiral otpti aeragana, issara aeki 
maekicci alut mala upan naewini sendwa, passe aeki maekicci mala upan 
naewini sendwa, inaehikellan ammd appd wdge kella, me ran mini kendata 
diva di7vas pdla, tobd deyyani, tobd deyyani, tobd deyyani. 

Ara maya, ara maya, dluta Wannl Hurun,daele?i daelata kdtu ipal gasd 
yaiine, alula Wanni Huruniye. 

^ There is nothing to show who is the Wanniya addressed. If— as appears 
certain — the honey gatherer speaks to another Vedda on the cHff above him, this 
formula scarcely comes under the heading of this chapter (Invocations), but it is 
undoubtedly convenient to keep this with the other invocations sung while collecting 


Ara maya^ ara nmya, telliin bado nangl padarna kawudat adtin padiin 
kodoyi kiyald^ isata kdrata piten duwo yanm^ aluta Wanni Hiiruniye. 

You Gods, You Gods ! By the good will and superiority (?) of the newly 
dead and reborn new host (of spirits), taking (these) offerings of honey-comb 
of the bees, you who may be the first destroyed of the newly dead and reborn 
new host (of spirits, and) you who may be the subsequently destroyed of the 
newly dead and reborn new host (of spirits), — having caused the bees to 
sport (round me) like a mother or father, protect this golden jewelled cord 
(i.e. the ladder of creepers) by (your) divine eyes, you Gods, you Gods. 

That (honey) is mine, that is mine. New Wanni Lords. Company by 
company, (as if with) thorny rods, (you) keep beating (me), O New Wanni 
Lords (i.e. the bees). 

That (honey) is mine, that is mine. (Regarding your) hard (or excessive) 
blows on the very feet that ascended (the ladder of creepers), no one having 
said there are deficiencies, (yet) you are going running from my back to my 
head and neck, O New Wanni Lords (i.e. to give still more blows or stings). 

" This invocation contains several expressions not met with 
previously, and I can only give doubtful translations of part 
of it. 

" Naewini probably nawma, ' fresh ' or ' new.' I think it has 
nothing to do with ndc wenaivd, to become a relative, the first 
word of which is always pronounced with a long vowel by both 
Vaeddas and Sinhalese. 

" Hamddiya, from saema ' all ' and ddiya ' first,' or ddika 
' great.' 

" Otpii for oppit, proofs, evidence ; but used by Vaeddas and 
Wanniyas for offering. 

" Maekicca, from v. makanawd, ' to obliterate,' ' to destroy.' 

" Kella, from v. kelinaivd, ' to sport.' 

'' Aekl for haeki, possible. 

'■'■Ara maya is unlikely to be aeruma.v&rhdX noun o{ arinatvd, 
' to leave,' or ' to let go.' 

' Tellicn, pi. of taelluma, v. noun of talanawd, ' to beat.' 

" Bddo may be ddda, ' hard,' ' solid ' or bddha, ' promise ' or 
' much,' 'excessive.' 

"■ Adim padiui, pi. oi adupddinva, 'deficiency.' 

" Kodoyi means ' it is not,' or ' there is not,' from kodawa, 
' not.' In the last paragraph of this invocation the negative 
is expressed thus : ' some having said there are not de- 
ficiencies.' " 


This is one of the invocations of which we could only obtain 
an explanation in part, but luckily our informants were perfectly 
clear as to the meaning they attached to the first part of the 
invocation, and we feel confident that the following lines give 
the significance attached by them to this part of this invoca- 

You spirits, you spirits of the recently dead and of the old 
dead, you Jiae (relative) spirits, take this ofi'ering of honey comb 
and protect me as a father and mother. Protect this rope. 

Concerning the word 7ipan which in this invocation Mr Parker 
translates " reborn, ' this authority writes, " Upan which I have 
translated reborn, literally means ' born ' ; but the other word 
more correctly expresses the meaning.... The view I should take 
of the matter is that the person died and was buried. Then 
when the Vaeddas find him or his spirit in existence again they 
term it a re-birth in the world of spirits. This kind of expression 
is common in Buddhism ; compare kelawara devlowa upa^ineya^ 
'he was (re)born in the final god-world ' (Dhatuvansa)." 

Although the Veddas of Bandaraduwa have come very much 
under foreign influence we feel convinced that they have no such 
carefully formulated ideas of re-birth as Mr Parker suggests, and 
we believe that the words of the invocation and the significance 
that the Veddas attach to it, can be harmonized without doing 
violence to Vedda modes of religious thought, by considering 
the translation as being from the comparatively unimportant 
preta to the full powered yaka, though as pointed out by 
Mr Parker, this would not be re-birth in the usual Sinhalese 
(Buddhist) sense. 

With regard to the expression nde (relative) spirits in the 
Vedda version, Mr Parker writes : " If Jiaewini were a mistake 
for nde wena, the translation of the first part after ' Gods' would 
be, ' By the goodwill and superiority of the newly dead and 
reborn host who are becoming {our) relatives!" The words in 
italics indicate only the meaning of the words ahit mala upan 
naeivini sendwa. 

Nde wena sendwa is nde, "kinsfolk," wena, 'becoming," and 
sendwa, " host," " multitude." 

invocations 297 

Invocations to Bambura Yaka. 

The invocations to Bambura Yaka are the most puzzling 
of all those we collected. None of our informants understood 
them and the translations given were fragmentary, or else we 
were told that although the words of the sentences could be 
translated so as to make some sort of sense, the significance 
of the invocation was unknown, or if appreciated did not 
necessarily agree with the meaning of the literal translation. 
Further, although it is certain that Bambura Yaka especially 
gives success in searching for yams and hunting pig, Mr Parker's 
translations make it quite certain that these invocations really 
apply to honey collecting. The reference to the " golden 
creeper," i.e. the ladder made of jungle creepers and used in 
taking honey, lowered across the face of the Inginiya rock 
makes this certain. Nevertheless both at Sitala Wanniya and 
Uniche, invocations with these expressions in them were recited 
as invocations to Bambura Yaka to send pig, and none of our 
informants regarded Bambura Yaka as having anything to do 
with honey. It may be suggested tentatively that the re- 
semblance in sound of Bambura the home of the yaka and 
bambara, the word for the rock bee, may have brought about 
this confusion. 

Sitala W^anniya. 

XXVII. Me mage Bamburani, Bamburani. Mage Bamburo bat kaddi 
nadaiv nadaw gala gala suniyaniye. 

Me masa muratata godu tnadane madnkat kdpii katata sindu dendo 
bana tto kiya?tdd. Me kuda Inginiya galata bapu ran waela galat gala 
gala me wara waeti gold. 

This is my Bambura, Bambura. While my Bambura is eating rice make 
a sound, make a sound, "gala, gala" — save, save (him) — by magic. 

At this very instant destroying the mounds (on the face of the rock) 
be pleased to give to the mouth that has eaten honey (the power to sing) 
songs (correctly and) not to speak nonsense. Save, save (both) the golden 
creeper that has been lowered down this little Inginiya rock and the rock, 
(or otherwise) this time the rock will fall. 

" Bamburo (pi.) and Bamburani are honorific forms of Bambura. 
Compare Ma/iarajaui, used in addressing a king. 


" Nddaw for ndda karapan, or pernaps ndda weyan, ' may 
there be a sound.' 

" Gala gala. Compare galawanawd, ' to save,' ' deliver.' 

" Masd, probably inrisa, from root mris, Skt. ' to touch.' 

" Mtirata for muhurta, a moment. 

" Godii, pi. o{ goda, a mound. 

" Maddne for madajia, from root mrid, Skt. to crush, destroy. 

" Bdpti from v. bdnawd, to lower. 

" Bana kiyanda, ' to repeat the Buddhist Scriptures,' is used 
colloquially with the meaning here given. 

" Gold for galo, ' rock,' as in another invocation addressed to 
this yaka." 

Mr Parker writes : " This is a prayer for the protection of the 
ladder of creepers down which the honey gatherer descends, and 
also to prevent the fall of loose pieces of projecting rock on his 
head. First the suppliant asks for magical words to arouse the 
attention of the yaka. The rest of the invocation is evidently 
addressed to \h^ yaka himself." 


XXVIII. Me Itigitiiya gala/a bdpu ran waela ivaelat ivael me wara 
"waetlye. Me apa Bamburo bat kana ran tnande. Mdrtu mal andan saedi 
galo. Me apa Batnburo bat kaddi nddaw, nddaw gal gala sutnyane. 

The golden creeper and the jungle creepers lowered down this Inginiya 
rock will fall this time (unless protected by the Yaka). This (rock) is the 
golden plate ofif which our Bambura eats rice. It is a rock made in the 
form of the Marut flower. While this our Bambura is eating rice make 
a sound, make a sound, " gal, gala " — save save (him) — by magic. 

" Waelat is probably wala plus /, forest or jungle. 

"Mdrtu for marut, a plant. 

" Audan for audama, manner, state. 

" Galo for gala, rock. 

" Apparently it is the rock which is expected to emit a noise 
that will arouse the attention of the yaka. The suppliant 
praises it in order to propitiate it." 

This invocation was not understood by Dur informants, nor 
could we ascertain that it was sung to any yaka other than one 
who was called Mulpola Hitiye Yaka, ''\)[\&yaka who stopped at 


the summit of the hilP." Unfortunately we omitted to ask 
whether this was a synonym for Kande Yaka who, in other 
invocations, is addressed as Kande Mulpola Wanniya, but the 
tone of the whole invocation with its reference to the "sword 
called Golden " is as unlike any other invocation to Kande as it 
well can be. This invocation is thoroughly foreign in form and 

Sitala "Wanniya. 
Invocation addressed to Mulpola Hitiye Yaka, "the yaka who 
stopped at the Chief Place," i.e. the summit of the hill, at the 
Bambura ceremony. 

XXIX. Ran nan kaduwe tiawa danitot 

Apald Wannige naiva no kiya. 
Apald Wannige nawa danitot 
Ran nan kaduwe nawa no kiyd. 

Angara naetun natana IVattnita 
Sonda sonda bera pada gasdpaw. 
Sellan naetun natana Wanvita 
Sonda sonda bera pada gasdpaw. 

If you know the eulogy of the sword called Golden 

Do not say the praise of our Wanniya. 

If you know the eulogy of our Wanniya 

Do not say the praise of the sword called Golden. 

To the Wanniya who dances gesture-dances 
Beat excellent tunes (lit. verses) on the tom-tom. 
To the Wanniya who dances sportive-dances 
Beat excellent tunes on the tom-tom. 

Our informants, though providing a translation of the words 

of this invocation which approximates to the translation given 

by Mr Parker, could not tell us the significance thereof Indeed 

they were only clear on one matter, that in spite of what the 

invocation said they had no drums and never had had drums. 

Handuna stated that the translation of the second verse 

should be: — 

Sing loudly to him who dances the angeru dance. 
Sing loudly to him who dances playful dances. 

None could say wliat the angeru dance might be. 

^ Or perhaps the yaka to whom the Mulpola Hitiye belonged. Hitiye whatever else 
it may signify is also the ancient name for a particular form of pointed weapon. 


Mr Parker suggests that the meaning of the first verse " may 
be that the Wanniya is too important a personage for anything 
else to be praised in the same breath (even his golden sword), and 
that ' at the same time ' is to be understood at the end of the 
second and fourth lines of the translation." 

Mr Parker also suggests that Mulpola Hitiye Yaka may be a 
synonym of " Gale Yaka (Yaka of the Rock) who danced on 
hills, and whose worshippers dance on many hills or crags of the 
Vaedi-rata as well as the North-western Province. Hitive is a 
participial adjective derived from hitinawa to stay or stop ; the 
literal translation oi mulpola hitiye Yaka is 'Chief-place-stopped- 
Yaka ! ' " 

Invocation at Pregnancy Ceremony. 

Sitala Wanniya. 

Us Miikkdliya ' Song, at pregnancy dance. 

XXX. Us mtikkdliya wato, inaeda mukkaliya wato, bdla kanuwa wato 
paena daeivafi ennau, devatdwayi. 

Having jumped round the high tripod, round the middle tripod, round 
the small post, come, wrapped up. (He) is a Devatawa (godling). 

This invocation was recited by the dancers at the pregnancy 
ceremony described on pp. 247 to 251. We do not understand to 
whom the last sentence "(He) is a Devatawa (godling)" applies. 
On receiving Mr Parker's translation we suggested that this 
might refer to the unborn child, but Mr Parker pointed out that 
he would not expect a child to be called a devatawa, and that 
" it is of the worst augury to speak in terms of praise of any 
child." Mr Parker therefore understands "the word devatawa 
to refer in a complimentary manner to the spirit which is asked 
to come." This idea agrees with the information we obtained 
in the field, where a somewhat doubtful translation of this invo- 
cation v/as given as follows : those who jump between the 
us mukkaliya, the meda mukkaliya, and the balakanuwa are 
devatawa (pi.). It was explained that the invocation referred to 
the performers, and that the expression " are devatawa " was the 

1 Mukkaliya is formed from two Tamil words, mundu " three," and kal " legs." 


equivalent to saying " are possessed o{ yaku" since to Veddas of 
Sitala Wanniya devatawa was a synonym for yaka. 

DoLA Yaka Ceremony. 

Sitala Wanniya. 
Invocation to Dola Yaka. 

XXXI. Kadat kada Doliye. Mai bandina iaena andagola saddaviayi. 
Bindoli damamia dainanna bindoliye, fnal bandina patnawayi. 

Our informants could not translate this invocation or even 
state its meaning. Mr Parker supplies the following " doubtful 
translation ": 

Bit by bit, O Doliya. At the place where the flowers (or necklaces) are 
tied there is a noise of calling (for us) The fixing of the demon offerings 
{dold) on the ground, the fixing of the demon offerings on the ground causes 
delay in tying the flowers (or necklaces). 

" Doli is usually a swing, but apparently this cannot be the 
meaning here. Dola is especially an offering to evil spirits who 
are demons, such as Riri Yaka. 

"It is uncertain if the first doliye should be translated * O 
Offering ! ' 

"In Clough's Dictionary one meaning of kada is 'arrow,' 
but it is very doubtful if the Vaeddas ever use it with this 
signification, indeed, I have never known kada used for arrow. 
Everywhere the Vaeddas and Sinhalese say f, lya, tgaha, Itala. 
The translation — ' arrow by arrow ' — would, however, suit the 

Invocation to Indigollae Yaka at the Kirikoraha 


Sitala W^anniya. 

XXX I I. Itiriya-koAida Madarac gala wddiyd. I dahasak gena sarasdpu 
duHU dtyd, Indigolle devi waediyot subd iviyd. Mini rlri oruwakata 
tibamin bomin lama. 

Madara-gala at Itiriya-kanda (is your) lodging. Having brought a 
thousand arrows (and) decorated bowstrings, God of Indigolla, should you 


come may (you) be fortunate. While putting (your mouth) to a boat (shaped 
vessel) of human blood (and) while drinking (may you be) delighted'. 

At Sitala Wanniya Indigollae Yaka was regarded as an 
attendant upon Kande Yaka. It is therefore obvious that this 
invocation did not arise at Sitala Wanniya or among any Veddas 
retaining their original yaka beliefs, and it is in fact an excellent 
example of the foreign element in the Vedda religion, and is 
especially interesting because it is possible in this case to indicate 
how an invocation of horrific nature has been introduced. 

This matter has been discussed in the addendum to 
Chapter Vlll; we may, however, suggest that the boat -shaped 
vessel of blood may refer to the murder of the 60 priests. 

What we have written on p. 165 concerning the attributes of 
Indigollae Yaka among the village Veddas of Unuwatura 
Bubula shows that he has entered their beliefs as a powerful 
but beneficent spirit, though revengeful of neglect or insult. 
At Sitala Wanniya he is a yaka attendant on Kande Yaka. 
He may have attained this position immediately on his adoption, 
in which case his terrifying invocation must have been sub- 
sequently introduced and carelessly attached to the friendly 
yaka. Or the invocation, which is clearly only a fragment of a 
long formula, may portray something of his character when first 
adopted, and though his attributes have been softened to the 
usual friendly quality of Vedda yakii, a portion of the invoca- 
tion appropriate to him may have lingered. We consider the first 
of these hypotheses the more likely, but in any case the existence 
among the Veddas of Sitala Wanniya of the foreign Indigollae 
Yaka as a beneficent attendant on Kande Yaka, who is never- 
theless invoked with a formula typical of a bloodthirsty 
Sinhalese demon, is a most mteresting example of the foreign 
elements that we now find in the Vedda religion. 

Invocation to the Maha Kiriamma. 
Sitala Wanniya. 

XXXIII. Sorambara ivaeive sonda sonda nelun aeti. Ewd nelunnaia 
sonda sonda liyo yati, eka inunu badii'^ baendana yali scnaga pam bard 
Sorambara pasu karana yati Paiigara-gammana. 

^ Deriving latiid from ram. 

2 eka viunu badu for ek-emunu badu, things strung together. 


In Horabora tank there will be excellent lotus. To gather them excel- 
lent women go ; tying on strings of beads they go. The multitude who 
cherish affection, leaving Horabora behind, go to Pangara gammana. 

The Veddas of Sitala Wanniya told us that they did not 
invoke the Kiriamma with offerings for the cure of sickness 
though they had heard that the Veddas of the Bintenne did so 
and Handuna gave us these hues as part of the Bintenne invoca- 
tion, which he said he had learnt from his father. He only 
understood the first few words which he translated "There are 
fine lotus in Horaboraweva and fine women go to pluck them." 
A variant of this invocation — if such it be — has been published 
by Mr Louis De Zoysa^ as a song of the Veddas of Horabora- 


Sorabora veve sonda olu tielum e 
Miivd nelannata sonda liyo e 
Kalu karald kudu karald uyd de 
Olu sdle bat kannata nidlu ne. 

Fine, fine water-lilies and lotuses grow in Sorobora tank ! 

These to gather come fine, fine women. 

They make them into black and white curries ; 

To eat the water-lily-seed rice there are no curries. 

Obviously both versions are corrupt and have been derived 
from an invocation (No. XXXIX) sung at the kolamaduiva cere- 

Invocation to the Kiriamma of Indigollaewa asking 

for success in hunting. 


XXXIV. Iri kanda Monara galada wddiya 

I dahasak wida tara karapu dunu diyd 
Yanda enda diya pa. ?iia>i baldpiyd 
Indigolle Devi waediyot subd wtyd 

A ell gigiran pita in da walu katitia latnd 
Diya gigiraji pita inda diya damana lama 
Naddunne dtinii diya ata kudil laind 
Riri oruwa pita saknian karana lama 

1 Note on the Origin of the Veddas, with a few specimens of their songs and 
charms. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of (lie Royal Asiatic Society, 1881, Vol. vii, 
Part II, p. 102. 


Oba tula rajuta oba tula wddi aeraepu lu 
Moba tula rajuta moba tula wadi aeraepu lu 
De pile rajuta de pile wadi aeraepu lil 
Tawa muna tiidida? Dan tula raju marapulu lu. 

Iri-kanda (Sow-hill) and Monara-gala (Peacock-rock) are (her) resting- 
(She has) a thousand arrows, and bow-strings made with strength to pierce. 
Look at the path on which her watery feet come and go. 
Should the Goddess of Indigolla proceed (along it) there will be good luck. 

(She is) the Lady who spins the clouds (in order) to sit behind the thunders 

of the waterfalls, 
The Lady who subdues the water (in order) to sit behind the thunders of the 

The Lady whose hand is small for the bow-string of the sounding bow (?), 
The Lady who walks behind the boat (shaped vessel) of blood. 

To the great king on that side that great resting-place was given up, it is 

said ; 
To the great king on this side this great resting-place was given up, it 

is said ; 
To the kings on both sides the resting places on both sides were given up, 

it is said. 
What (opportunity was there) still for sleep } The wealthy great kings were 

killed, it is said. 

" Oba and moba are Sinhalese or Elu words for ' there ' and 
' here ' according to Clough ; but are never used colloquially by 
Sinhalese, whereas they are in common use by the Vaeddas, 
and I was told by them they meant ' on that side ' and ' on this 
side,' otta (Sin, ohata) and metta (Sin. mehata) being used for 
' there ' and ' here.' 

" The penultimate lu of the last line appears to be pleonastic. 

" The translation of the third line of the second verse is 
doubtful. It may mean ' the little lady whose hand (guides) the 
bow-string of the sounding bow,' and this would agree with her 
title Lama, but as she is not elsewhere referred to as being 
young or small I have not inserted this translation in the verse." 

This invocation was written down for us by Tissahami the 
Vedda Arachi. It is therefore not surprising to find that it 
contains little that belongs to the Vedda stratum of thought. 
The invocation is headed Indigollae Kiri Ammd dadayamata 


natana kavi " Song danced for hunting to Kiriamnia of Indi- 
gollae." We did not have the opportunity of discussing the 
meaning of this invocation in the field, and indeed knew nothing 
of its contents until Mr Parker translated it. With regard to the 
significance of this invocation Mr Parker writes: "Indigollae 
Kiriamma is here treated as the Huntress Goddess of the 
waters, who sends the rain which enables the hunters to track 
the deer. The boat of blood is referred to in an invocation 
of her husband, the Indigollaewa Yaka. 

" Apparently two other Yakas endeavoured to take from her 
the two hills which she haunted, but in the end she killed the 
intruders and regained these resting-places^" 

Invocations to the Rahu Yaku. 

These are invocations to a Sinhalese demon who has been 
taken over by the Veddas and assumed Vedda attributes. The 
most striking alteration that the demon has undergone is that 
instead of the single Rahu Yaka of the Sinhalese the Veddas 
speak of three Rahu Yaku (Sitala Wanniya) or of male and 
female spirits Raku Yaka and Yakini (Bandaraduwa). The 
Sitala Wanniya story of the Vedda brothers who became the 
Rahu Yaku has been given in Chapter Vll, but we do not know 
anything concerning the origin of the Yaka and Yakini who are 
completely foreign in character. 

Sitala Wanniya. 

XXXV. Ran adiikkii aedcwa, ran kadu aetuwa, gas mada aetuwa^ hudu 
hainbd aetun bdra du?tnd. Yam antardwak wenda epd. Oppic galld. 

Together with golden cooked food, with golden swords, with toddy 
(lit. tree spirit) we gave white samba rice. We do not want any danger to 
occur to us. Take the offering. 

With Handuna's help a translation of this invocation was 
prepared which is practically identical with that provided by 
Mr Parker. Handuna explained that in this invocation gas 
mada^ lit. " core of a tree," stood for " coconut." 

1 " Her origin has not been mentioned in any of these invocations; the Sinhalese 
state that she is Mohini, the beautiful incarnation of Vishnu, and mother of Ayiyanar, 
the great Forest God of Ceylon." 

s. v. 20 


XXXVI. Narusayi saedutie, bornsayi saediine. Gini RaJiii Bandara 
ena velata kadu hewakamak saedi go. 

The Na tree is made, and the B5 tree is made. At the time when the 
chief, Gini Rahu, comes, a fight with swords will be made. 

The Veddas could neither explain the meaning of the words 
of this invocation, nor state the significance of the whole. 

Unuwatura Bubula. 

XXXVII. Gini wahalak sadala, ran kdla pandamak sadala, ran I iti 
saddla, Gini Rahu Bandara ran I iti sadala me magul maduwata wadinrta 
7'an niolat balanna. 

As we have constructed a Fire Palace, as we have made a light (resting) 
on a golden support (?), as we have made with wax golden arrows, O Chief, 
Gini Rahu, as we have made with wax golden arrows, be pleased to proceed 
to this festival shed and to look at the golden mortar also. 

The Veddas of Unuwatura Bubula understood this invocation 
in a somewhat different sense. 

Gini Rahu Bandar come to this shelter, look upon the golden mortar. 
The shelter has a roof of fire, within it is a golden torch and golden bees'- 


Invocations sung at the Kolamaduwa Ceremony. 

We were told that the kolamadinva ceremony was performed 
until recently with considerable pomp and circumstance by the 
Veddas of Bandaraduwa. Tissahami, the Vedda Arachi, gave 
us the following invocations as some of those that he learnt to 
sing when as a youth he lived among the Veddas. Tissahami 
wrote down these invocations after the partial rehearsal of 
the kolaviadmva ceremony which w^as arranged for our 
benefit at Henebedda, a description of which is given in 
Chapter IX. 

When discussing the kolamadinva we were told that Veddas 
were sometimes sent for by the peasant Sinhalese because of the 
superior protection afforded to the cattle fold by their mvocations 
and dances. The tradition as to this practice was quite definite 


and we do not doubt that it occurred formerly, but we could hear 
of no recent instance in which Veddas alone officiated. 

This did not surprise us for we met with no Veddas who 
knew these long invocations, and we believe that this practice 
must have ceased throughout the Vedirata at least two or three 
generations ago. The necessary conditions existed in those 
days when, as we were assured, there were communities of village 
Veddas with shaman of repute such as no longer exist, and we 
may instance the history of Lindegala given on pp. 171 and 172 as 
a case in point. Nevertheless the custom survives in a modified 
form, for Tissahami with three Veddas performed a kolaniaduwa 
ceremony at Damenegama in 1903 with the object of stopping 
an epidemic, alleged to be dysentery, which was then raging in 
the neighbouring villages. 

A very large number of spirits are invoked, but as has been 
indicated in Chapter IX Kande Yaka, Bilindi Yaka, and the yak u 
of the recent dead were not of the number. This demonstrates 
that the ceremony as it at present exists is essentially foreign, 
and therefore the length and nature of the three invocations 
given are not surprising. The invocation to Unapane Kiriamma 
which recites her deeds agrees well with all we could find out 
about her independently, and suggests that these invocations 
arose among such settled village Veddas as those mentioned in 
the Sinhalese chronicles referred to in the first chapter. 

The four invocations written down by Tissahami were dis- 
cussed at length with him, the shaman of the Henebedda Veddas 
sitting with us, though as this man — a half bred — knew only 
parts of these invocations and greatly admired Tissahami, the 
translations obtained in this way only represent the opinion of 
Tissahami, and presumably that of the Kovil Vanamai Veddas 
from whom he learnt them in his youth. In these circumstances 
it is not surprising that two of these translations differ con- 
siderably from those furnished by Mr Parker, and this difference 
is so great in the invocation (No. XXXIX) which should be sung 
while the leaves are being slashed from the kolai)iadiava (cf. 
p. 269) that we have thought it best to give our field version as 
well as Mr Parker's translation. Some of the allusions, for 
instance, the reference to the shark contained in the first portion 

20 — 2 


of No. XXXIX, were equally unintelligible to our field informants 
and to Mr Parker, 

Invocation of Unapane Kiriamma at the 


XXXVIII. I. Udu-tiuwara kotdgena 
Yaeti-imwara kotagena 
Sal ilyan saddgena 
Pol fiyan sdddgemi 

2. Aeli detd saddgena 
Ru miwd saddgena 
Udu wiyan sdddgena 
Wata wiyafi sdddgena 

3. Ran piyowili sdddgena 
Netti male sdddgena 
Ran kara iral sdddgena 
Mottaekkili sdddgena. 

4. Sltino dtarata 
Miildwak luaeti sita 
Miya gtidiji sat dawosata 
Ran diiuas waeti sita. 

5. Sat Pdttitti Deviya/ifiem 
Teda ivd7-an Idbdgena 
Mottaekkili labdgena 
Kataragan wdhdlen 

6. Kada hdngal labdgena 
Teda wdran ladde:ena 
Sidda Mdngra Deviyan>ie)n 
Kiri ddluwd Idbdgena 

7. Valli Jiatn A mind go 
Kalii ambara pattiyeta 
Hiidu ambara pattiyeta 
Ru wdhun niuttdweta 

8. Deva diiuas eldpu 
Undpdne Kiri Ammd 
Sat peretn Kiimdri 
Udu wiyati Kumdri 

9. Wata wiyan Kumdri 
Mottaekkili Kumdri 
Ran piyowili Kumdri 
Ran kara p;al Kumdri 
Viddgama Kumdri/ — 


10. Aeyi pdind niuna pdmada 
Hu?i klri sdddpKum 
Kada hdngal sdddpufiiu ? 
Ran dnvas eldpaji 
Ran 7iadu kiydpan. 

1. Cutting Udu-nuwara (jungle), 
Cutting Yati-nuvvara (jungle), 
Planting Sal gardens, 
Planting Coconut gardens, 

2. Training elephants (f.) and the tusk elephant. 
Training the riding buftalo, 

Making ceiling cloths, 
Making side (wall) cloths, 

3. Making golden coverings, 
Making forehead ornaments, 
Making golden necklaces (?), 
Making head cloths, 

4. While (you were) living ; 
Having fallen into adversity, 

Seven days after (your) fatal sickness. 

After (their) golden divine eyes had fallen (on you), 

5. From the seven Pattini Goddesses 
Receiving their gifts of power ; 
Receiving head coverings 

From the Kataragam palace, 

6. Receiving a pair of robes ; 
Receiving the gift of power, 
From the deity the God Mangala 
Receiving coconuts^ 

7. (Receiving from) the mother called Valli, cattle 
For the black cattle (lit. horn-bearer) fold 
(And) for the white cattle fold, 

(And) beautiful chatties for cooking-pots ; 

8. (You) who cast down (on us your) divine eyes, 
Kiri Amma of Unapana, 

The Princess foremost of seven (Kiri Ammas), 
Princess of ceiling cloths, 

9. Princess of wall cloths. 
Princess of head coverings, 
Princess of golden coverings, 
Princess of golden necklaces. 
Princess of Vidagama ! — 

1 Cf. note ^ p. 277. 


lo. Why (are you) late, what is (the cause of) the delay 
When we have made ready young coconuts, 
When we have made ready a pair of robes ? 
Cast (on us your) golden divine eyes ; 
Declare (your) golden decision. 

" Mottaekkili is formed of two Tamil words, nioddei (pro- 
nounced mottei), a bald head, and kill a strip of cloth. The 
word does not occur in Winslow's dictionary. 

" Piyowili is a verbal noun derived from piyanawa to cover 
or shut. 

''Kara gal may here mean 'stones for the neck,' i.e. beads ; 
the usual meaning is whet-stones. 

" Ainbara, horn-bearer, is a kaclc bdsa word which usually 
means buffalo. 

'' Peretii iox pcratii, foremost. 

" SadapHviH is a peculiar form, the past participial adjective 
with the termination of the first person plural." 

The first three verses enumerate the works that Unapane 
Kiriamma is traditionally supposed to have performed during 
her life on earth. The fourth and fifth verses indicate that 
she died after a prolonged illness and on the seventh day 
after her death received power, i.e. became a yaka. Verses 
four to seven mention her and the gifts presented to her by 
various superior gods who, as Mr Parker writes, are all Tamil 
deities, " by Pattini the Goddess of chastity and controller of 
epidemics, who has seven manifestations or forms ; Skanda the 
god of the Kataragam temple ; Mangala, who may be Ayiyanar ; 
and Walliamma the wife of Skanda, who according to the 
traditions of Ceylon married her at Kataragama." Mr Parker 
suggests that in the third line of the eighth verse " The Princess 
foremost of Seven " refers to the position of Unapane Kiriamma 
as " the most important personage among the seven minor 
Kiriammas to whom worship is paid by the Southern Vaeddas. 
Four others among them are local princesses or chieftainesses, and 
tv/o are the sakti or female manifestations of minor deities. In 
another district Miriyabaedda Kiriamma is considered to be the 
most important one of this group, and the Unapane Kiriamma 
is there held to occupy only the third place." 

invocations 311 

Invocation sung at the Kolamaduwa ceremony. 


1. Masdmasa mfida maedde masa mora, kapdgena le keliyatada mas 

keliyatada giye ara Walimba gala dun wedi panikkiyd. 

2. A^d kadiiwcn kota Bd kaduiven di?tii?t dakiniiayi. 
Bo kadiiweti kotd Bo kadwiueit dinun dannayi 
Dinun dakiniiayi, topd ydluwa. 

3. Kadii hcwdkan karagattd 

Hat hewdkan kafanilada karanita{da) ? 

Hat hewdkan karagano 

Kadu he^i'dkan karanada karaniiadac ? 

4. Obama obama oba Horabara waeivd tioj 
Mobama mobama moba Mdwilingangd no, 
Andd diya duwana Mdwilitigangd no, 
Enawd kiyannan Nihnal gangd no. 

5. Horabara waewe kdnwwa pita iniiada? 
Aela tvele ivel eliyen ennada ? 

Daena walalu nada dild ennada ? 
Kariya kiyannata Nihnal ennada ? 

Pdlii ratayi, Wanniya, otanin bhataj 
Golu gena panini zvael hinno aengata, 
Re7-u aeivit diya kelind sonda rtiwata. 
Ydlii topit giyoda Sorabora waewata ? 
Sorabora waewe egodat innan Vaeddo ; 
Sorabora waewe me godat innan Vaeddo j 
Sorabora waewe de godama innan Vaeddo, 
Apafat nelun mal awulanda deddo? 
Sorabora waewe sonda sonda olu ttelun aeti; 
Ewuwd nelannata sotida sotida liyo eti ; 
Kalu karald kudu karald uyd deti. 
Olu sdle bat kannata main naeti. 

6. Me kalumal aella wicdre 

A tat damd yana murd gamanayi bdlanne 

Me Kadagat gdla wicdre 

Isata ddmd ydno is mottaekkili bdlanne 

Me Niyandaward gala wicdre 

A lata payata ddmd yano gigiri ndnda aesenne. 

Kalutnal Nangita bdendapu paeni mula kelen rata waeti go. 

Kalumal Afangita baendapu amd mula kondeft rdtd waeti go 

Angara naetun natana Wannita hottda honda bera pada gdcdpd. 

Kori kat bori kat dpafa epd toba paengiri kola benddpd 


Kaha kirillan taldwe ndld perati Hannaehaelage nilrd gatnan penenne 

Atata wCidan pdyata wadan daeta gigiri sdlanne^ 

Ndld perati Hantiaehaeld rnulpolatayi diiwa eiine. 

Mini kobo taldwe ndld perati Hannaeheld ?iurd gdman karanne. 

Ddeta ddmd ddeta gigiri sdldnne. 

1. Cutting- the shark fish in the midst of the Masaniasa Sea, did that 

skilful elephant catcher to whom Walimba-gala is given go for the 
sport with blood or for the sport with fish ? 

2. Having cut with the Na sword I shall see victories (i.e. I shall be 

victorious) with the Bo sword. 
Having cut with the Bo sword I shall gain victories with the Bo sword ; 
I shall see victories, You Friend. 

3. (When) fighting with swords shall I fight shall I fight with (my) hands 

(also) ? 
(When) fighting with (my) hands shall I fight shall I fight with swords ? 

4. There, there, there is Horabora waewa ; 
Here, here, here is the Mahawaeli-ganga 

The Mahawaeli-ganga in which the water laments as it flows. 
"I am coming, Nilmal-ganga," I shall say. 

5. (He longs to return to distant Horabora, and his thoughts now dwell 

on it.) 
Shall I stop on the sluice of Horabora? 
Shall I come from the open ground of the field on the channel.'' 

Shall I come now, making my bangles resound .-' 

Shall I come to Nilmal Cganga) to declare the matter? (i.e. to tell the 

truth about the district. He means that he need not go there 

to tell it). 

It is a deserted district, Wanniya, from end to end (lit. from there 

to there) ; 
Bringing their pupils (young ones, with them) the small creeping ants 

spring on to my body. 
Teal come (to the tank) and sport very beautifully in the water. 
Friends, have you also been to Sorabora waewa ? 

There will be Vaeddas on this side of Sorabora waewa ; 
There will be Vaeddas on that side of Sorabora waewa ; 
There will be Vaeddas on even both sides of Sorabora waewa. 
Will they permit us also to collect lotus flowers? 

There will be very lovely white lotus in Sorabora waewa ; 
Very handsome women will have been sent to pluck them ; 


After preparing and cleaning and cooking them they will give them (to 

be eaten). 
For eating (with) rice made from seeds of the white lotus there is no 

meat (the game having been driven away). 

6. (When 1 examine) this Kalumal waterfall 

It looks (as though) I am joining in a love (making) journey. 

In the examination of this Kadagat-gala what is fixed on the head 

(.? of the rock) looks like a head-cloth. 
In the examination of this Niyandawara-gala the sound of the jingling 

bangles placed on the hands and feet is heard. 

From the end of the bundle of honey tied up for Kalumal Nangl it is 

falling (?on the ground). 
From the mouth of the bundle of rice (?) tied up for Kalumal Nangl it is 

falling (.'' on the ground). 
For the Wanniya who dances the angara dances beat excellent tunes on 

the tom-toms. 
We do not want lame women's pingo loads, or sham (or refuse) loads ; 

tie up desirable betel leaves. 
The reed pipes of Kaha Kirillantalawa (Orioles' plain) being in front, 

it seems to be the love (making) journey of Hannaehela (hill). 

Having garlands for the hands and garlands for the feet (she) shakes 

the jingling bangles of both hands. 
The reed pipes being in front Hannaehela comes running to the Chief 

place (summit) — (or, they come running to the chief place of 


7. The reed pipes of Mini Kobotalawa (turtle doves' plain) being in front, 

Hannaehela makes (her) love journey ; 
Having placed them on both hands (she) shakes the jingling bangles of 
both hands. 

" In this song the Masamasa Sea is again mentioned ; there is 
probably some legend regarding the shark that was killed in the 
olden time. In Ancient Ceylon I have given reasons for believing 
that the early Vaeddas were in part a race of fishers. 

" The ' blood-game,' le keliya, of the first section may have 
some connection with blood offerings to demons. The other 
expression, mas keliya, would commonly mean 'meat-game,' but 
as meat is termed nidhi at the end of the fifth section it appears 
to mean here ' fish-game,' the sport of fishing. 

" In the fourth section, the singer, living near the Mahawaeli- 
ganga, thinks he will hear the Nilmal-ganga, apparently a river 
near Horabora, calling him back to that district. The last 


words of the fifth section give the reason why the Vaeddas have 
left it, — the want of game. The expression kahi, karald, 'having 
made black,' must refer to some part of the process in preparing 
the lotus seeds. 

" I do not understand the sixth section, in which I have 
adhered as closely as possible to what appears to be the literal 
meaning. It would be much more intelligible if pronouns had 
been inserted ; there is only one, apata epd, ' we do not want,' 
which explains nothing. 

" Apparently the hill Hannaehela, with reeds growing in 
pools on the plains near it (from which the reed pipe, naldzva, is 
made), reminds the singer of a girl decked with garlands, who is 
going to be married (or possibly only visiting her younger sister), 
preceded by men playing these pipes. As I understood it, she 
takes with her pingo loads of betel, honey and cooked rice, to 
present to her younger sister, the Kalumal waterfall. 

" The meaning of rata in the second verse of this section is un- 
certain. The word anid may be hanibd or samba, a kind of rice. 
Angara is defined in Clough's Dictionary as 'anointing the body 
after bathing with perfumes made from sandal wood.' 

" Paengiri kola is a kaelebdsa expression for betel. Mini 
kobo should be mini kobeyiyo (jewelled) turtle doves ; some other 
pigeons are called bowd in Sinhalese, an onomatopoietic word 
imitating their cooing. 

'" Kori kat borikat\s an expression I have not heard, and the 
meaning is doubtful." 

On account of the great difference between Mr Parker's 
translation and the meaning of this invocation as it was explained 
in the field, we now give the translation we wrote down while 
discussing the matter with our informants. It does not pretend 
to do more than explain the significance which our informants 
attributed to the invocation, and at the time we noted it 
we realised that it was far from being a literal translation. 
Explanatory remarks are enclosed between square brackets. 

(i) Did the Panikkia of mist covered VValimbagala go to 
the great sea to kill the great shark and bring his flesh and 
blood ? 

[The Panikkia is a spirit whose home is Walimbagala 


(Friar's Hood). He is doubtless the Walimbagala Yaka of 
other groups of Veddas.] 

(2) Friends I will cut with my sword of Na and Bo and 
I will be victorious. [The Panikkia speaks to a host of spirits 
known as the Maha Yakino.] 

(3) Did he go to fight with the sword, or to charm with his 
tongue ? 

(4) Horaborawewa is far away, the Mahawelliganga the 
waters of which are blue, is far away. [It was explained that 
this verse referred to the Veddas of Horabora being far away.] 

(5) Are you on the sluice of Horaborawewa? [The j/aku of 
dead Veddas are thus addressed.] 

They [the j'aku] will be coming by the fields of Elavella 
[well-known rice fields]. 

Are you coming shaking your bangles in your hands? 

Nilmal (Kiriamma) are you coming to favour us? 

The country of the Wanniyas is abandoned in that direction. 

Bears growl and roam (in the abandoned country). 

Friend have you been to Horaborawewa where teal swim ? 

There are Veddas on the far side of Horaborawewa. 

There are Veddas on this side of Horaborawewa. 

There are Veddas on both sides of Horaborawewa. 

Will they allow us to pick lotus flowers .'* 

There are fine 0/0 [a plant] and lotus in Horaborawewa. 

Beautiful women come to pick them. 

(They) cook and give white and black (seeds) [i.e. cleaned 
and uncleaned seeds]. 

(There is) no curry to eat the 0/0 rice [i.e. the seeds]. 

(6) See how (they) go along Kalumalella [the stream below 
the sluice] swinging their hands ; 

See how (they) go along Kadagangala [a hill] with their 
heads covered. 

Hear the jingling of bangles on the hands and feet of those 
going to Niyandawaragala [a hill]. 

The parcel of honey [tied up in leaves] for Nilmal Nangi is 

The parcel of rice for Kalumal Nangi is erect. 

Beat the tom-tom for the Wanniya to dance well. 


Do not give small and torn betel leaves to us. 

See how Pereti Hannaehela going and coming from Kaha 
Kirillan talawa jingling the bangles on her hands.... 

Pereti Hannaehela is coming running to the Kolamaduwa. 

(7) Pereti Hannaehela of Minikobo talazva comes jingling 
bangles on her hands. 


Invocation of the Maha Yakino Ceremony. 

XL. Kolainaduwo bat tnul ba{n)dina-kuia kiyafia ka-viya. 

Kaye rate rate game yandada me ran dmd itiul bddinne badinne. Kay a 
wat rate game yanda neweyi. Tope rate game yandayi me ran dmd mnl 
badinne badinne. Muna muna wel gan kotdld do me ran dmd mill badinne 
bddinne. Kdye rate game yandada me nd kola iviyan badinne badinne. 
Tope rate game yanda me 7Jd kola wi bddin dinne, bddinne. 

Song which is sung while tying up the bundles of rice for the 

To go'to a village in whose countries are (we) tying, are (we) tying these 
bundles of golden Ambrosia.-' Not to go to a village in the country of 
anyone (else) whatever, (but) to go to a village in thy country (we) are tying, 
(we) are tying these bundles of golden ambrosia. Having cut which fields 
are (we) tying, are (we) tying these bundles of golden ambrosia.? To go to 
a village in whose country are (we) tying, are (we) tying these tid leaf 
canopies ? To go to a village in thy country (we) are tying, (we) are tying 
these Nd leaf canopies. 

Our field translation of this invocation substantially agrees 
with Mr Parker's, though as might be expected our informants 
gave "rice" in place of " Ambrosia." 

Invocation of Ambarapoti Kiriamma at the Kolama- 
duwa Ceremony. 

XLI. Gawara wil mdnedi elaivdld kele yudda 

Bambard mala pita indagena karayi ndnda wenama sadda 
Ambai'dla pusma sundun palandinawd itd sitdda 
Ambarapoti Ammd misa me nadinvafa kawiiru aedda 
Mondarinju kara nila tamba pota semayi 
Bilindiiga dsana ruwa yodund 
Baden koson mal maldan semayi 
Bella watata gombara isutid 
Sagga puskola e ran todii gena 
Ndsikdwa nalalata obind 


Kumala patul deka derana tabdgena 

Waediyayi Ambarapoti Atiif/td. 

Said didi raela 7)iatupita petiyek perelena andan 

Wald yaetin pdeyu sande deviyo waedawena andan 
Ran iorane'ka ramba toraiieka deviyo saetapena andan 

Uva tedeti inal sdint viaduwata saerasiina andan. 

While the sambar deer trusted to the pool, being driven away it was 

attacked in the jungle. 
The Bambara bee sitting on the flower will make quite another cry 

(i.e. objects) about bathing. 
It is very cleanly to put on frequent sandal-wood after grinding it (to powder). 
Except Ambarapoti Amma who is there (to undertake) this business ? 
The sapphire of the peacock's neck (shines) like a plate of copper. 
The throne of Bilindi is made beautifully. 
From his body (hang) margosa flowers like a garland, 
Round his neck are scattered freckles (light patches), 
He has ear-rings of gold joined to talipat leaf, 
His nose is worthy of his forehead. 
The child placing his two feet on the earth 
Is greater than Ambarapoti Amma. 

As a petiyd (fish) is rolled over on the top of the eddying wave. 
Like the moon risen from under the cloud, the deviyd advances. 
Like an arch of gold, an arch of ramba grass, the deviyd reclines, 
Like the Lord of Vaeddas, who has renown throughout Uva, adorned for the 

(wedding) hall. 

The first four lines of our field version of this invocation 
agree tolerably well with Mr Parker's translation except that 
nothing is said about bathing, the second line running " The 
bees seated on the flowers make humming noises." The next 
eight lines were given to us as follows : 

" The child should be like the colour of the peacock's neck. 

"The body (of the child) should be like the flowers of the 
kohomba tree (margosa tree), like the flowers of the damba tree 
are the goine7'a^ round the neck (of the child). 

" The earrings made of talipot leaves look beautiful (when 
worn) in the face. 

" Ambarapoti Amma came striding across the firmament." 

Of the remaining four lines only the last is substantially 
different from Mr Parker's. It runs " See how the Malsami who 
has authority over Uva comes to the niadtca." 

1 Gotnera are light flecks on the skin which are much admired. 



It is not our purpose in this short chapter to attempt to 
describe systematically the crafts of the Veddas, this has already 
been done by the Sarasins and we shall, therefore, limit ourselves 
to touching on matters which especially interested us, or con- 
cerning which we have unrecorded information. 

The arts and crafts of the Veddas are of the simplest nature, 
their belongings are few, and there is no certain attempt at 
ornamentation on any of these. Even personal adornment is 
so lacking that it may be disregarded. The highest artistic 
attainments of the Veddas seem to be their songs and in- 
vocations, and these, with their ceremonial dances, in which 
they may be said to have specialised, seem to have absorbed 
all that part of their mental energy which remains after pro- 
viding for their daily necessities. There is no reason to believe 
that their artistic development was ever any higher than it is at 
the present day, when the only form of decorative art in which 
they indulge for its own sake, is rude drawing on rocks which 
we shall now described 

Rock Drawings. 

Figs. I and 2 of Plate LVI show rock drawings made by the 
Veddas of Sitala Wanniya at Pihilegodagalge and another cave 
near it. Since our return we have ascertained that other Veddas 

1 It is possible that a few individuals are pleased by simple geometrical patterns. 
There are traces of ornamentation on two of the pots shown in Plate LXII although 
this had avowedly been copied from foreign pots. 


make drawings \ but unfortunately we did not pay attention to 
this matter until we had seen Pihilegodagalge. 

This was due to the frequent occurrence of rough drawings 
and scribblings made by Tamil gall-nut collectors in some of the 
rock-shelters sometimes used by the Henebedda Veddas. The 
Veddas obviously had nothing to do with these, and they denied 
that they were responsible for the only other drawings that we 
saw, namely those of an elephant and two men in Punchikiri- 

Probably drawings are made in many of the sloping rock- 
shelters and are habitually washed away by the monsoon. 
Indeed this view was put forward by the men of the Sitala 
Wanniya group who stated that all Veddas could make 

Pihilegodagalge was, however, specially well situated for the 
preservation of the drawings, and the pictures on the back wall 
of the cave were never touched by rain. The drawings were 
usually made by women, who said they did them when they 
were waiting for the men to return from hunting, apparently 
merely to amuse themselves. We feel confident that no magical 
import attaches to these pictures, the usual subjects of which 
are men and women, various animals and the hide vessel 
niahidema (Sin. hangotii) in which honey is collected. Ashes 
were mixed with a little saliva in the palm of the hand and 
streaked on to the rock with the forefinger of the right hand, 
the spots of the leopard being put in with a charcoal paste 
prepared in the same manner. 

Plate LVI, fig. I shows on the right a vialudeina, a vessel 
made of deer's hide in which rock-honey is collected. The 
radiating lines which make this drawing appear like the sun's 
disc, represent handles made of loops of creeper, while the spots 
inside indicate the honey. The vialudevia (a photograph of 
which is given in Plate LXV) is a favourite subject and occurs 
in a number of rock paintings. Below the maliideina on the 
right is a dog and below this a leopard is represented. On the 

1 Mr H. C. F. ISell has written to us that he has seen drawings in the rock-shelters 
used a few years ago by the Veddas of Tamankaduwa, and Mr Alfred Clark formerly 
of the Woods and Forests Department has also observed them. 


left the two long figures which might be taken for centipedes 
really portray the big monitor lizard ( Varanus bcngalensis), the 
vertical lines representing ribs. 

Plate LVI, fig. 2 shows on the right a leopard and dogs 
while on the left men and women are seen. This illustration 
does not show very clearly the difference between men and 
women which was pointed out to us. Lines pointing upwards 
were drawn from the heads of women to show that their hair 
was tied in a knot. This distinction is very difficult to under- 
stand. The hair of both men and women is equally unkempt, 
the women certainly tie theirs into a knot behind, but this is 
quite frequently done by men also as a matter of convenience ; 
and to the uninitiated these lines radiating from the head rather 
give the appearance of loose hair than the reverse. 

The drawings in Plate LVTI, fig. i are the work of a man, 
the grandfather of Handuna, the leader of the group. He is 
considered to have been an exceptionally good draughtsman. 
He was once obliged to go to Batticaloa the official head- 
quarters of the province, the reason was difficult to follow, but 
it appeared to have been connected with a murder which had 
taken place. On his return to the cave he made a picture of 
what had impressed him most, namely, " the white man on 
horseback." Two representations of this are seen on the left, 
on the right there is a group of men and women surrounding 
a man who holds a bow above his head. The lower horizontal 
line represents the bow while the upper is the string and the 
vertical line the arrow. The dots scattered around the arrow 
represent its feathers. 

Plate LVn, fig. 2 represents a number of drawings of inahi- 
denia in a cave near Sitala Wanniya. 

Plates LVHI to LXl are photographs of pictures made for 
us on brown paper by several members of the Sitala Wanniya 
community. The upper part of Plate LVHI shows a leopard 
attacking a dog, this was made by Vela, below it is a row of 
men drawn by the wife of Handuna. On Plate LIX a nialu- 
denia is depicted on the left, next on the right are three women, 
two drawn horizontally and the third vertically, but upside 
down ; in all of them the body has been carried down too far, 

Plate LVI 

Fig. I. Rock drawings in Pihilegodagalge cave 

Fig. 2. Rock drawings in Pihilegodagalge cave 


Plate LVII 

Fig. I. Rock drawings in Pihilegodagalge cave 

Fig. 2. Rock drawings of hangotu in Gamakandegalge cave 

















Plate LXI 

Vedda drawings 


SO as to project downwards between the legs : the radiating lines 
above the head were said to represent hair. In the lower part 
of the photograph in the centre is a dog. The next three 
figures represent a bow and arrow, a woman and a man, looking 
at them from above to below. On the right is a group of men. 
The lower figure in this plate shows a sambar deer in the centre 
and four dogs, two men and a woman. Plate LX shows a 
leopard, a dog and several men and women. 

The figures of elephants and a man with a bow and arrow 
on Plate LXI were drawn on grey millboard and were so faint 
that it was necessary to blacken them before reproduction. The 
carelessness with which the trunk is put in is noteworthy. 

The only other occasions on which we saw pigments used 
were at the Bambura Yaka and Rahu Yaka ceremonies de- 
scribed in Chapter IX, black and yellowish-brown marks being 
made on the properties prepared. The black marks were made 
with charcoal paste, the brownish marks with turmeric. 


The only other art practised by the Veddas is that of 
pantomime from which they undoubtedly derive real pleasure. 
Within the limits of their daily experience they are good actors, 
and will most faithfully portray their own method of doing 
things. The zest with which a number of Henebedda Veddas 
spontaneously prepared the properties for a pantomimic ex- 
hibition of honey gathering, and then enacted the scene at 
Bendiyagalge caves, was very striking and has been referred to 
in Chapter IV. 

Another piece of pantomime which we never saw enacted 
spontaneously but which was performed at our request, was the 
stalking of game. Directly the object to be " stalked " had been 
indicated, the stalker fixed his eyes on it, and then approached 
noiselessly and warily, with body bent and head forward, every 
muscle ready for instant action, till within a few paces of the 
object when he would straighten his body and return to the rest 
of the party at his usual easy pace. 

S. V. 21 



There is an extraordinary absence of legend among all 
groups of Veddas who have not been greatly influenced by 
Sinhalese, Concerning the origin of men, natural features, and 
things the Veddas seem absolutely incurious, nor do their songs 
refer to any of these subjects. There are no stories of talking 
animals or of how their rock-shelters were formed; they have 
not even a tale of their own origin. Apart from a few accounts 
of the origin of particular yaku and the deeds they performed 
(e.g. the pig-hunting of Bambura Yaka) the following two 
legends were all that we could hear though the most diligent 
inquiry was made. 

The Origin of Fire. 

There was a man who had fire ; he distributed this to 
animals, trees and stones, but a little remained to him at the 
end and this he swallowed. His name was Wasawatiya. " We 
cannot say whether he was a Vedda. Because he swallowed 
this fire we all get hungry, for we all have fire within us. There 
were men before Wasawatiya but they could not talk ; other- 
wise they were as ourselves. Wasawatiya made and sent the 
first dog to those people, and the dog barked at them ; so that 
those people feared greatly and stammering and stuttering began 
to talk, and the first words were ballakai, ballakai — 'dog will 
bite.' " Handuna of Sitala Wanniya was our informant and he 
also gave the following account of the rainbow. 

The Rainbow. 

When there is rain there is a "kind of yellow bow" (rain- 
bow) in the sky. One of our women made a bow of wood like 
it and that is all. 

How the hill Yakagala came by its name. 
The following story was told by Wannaku of Uniche ; 
a variant occurs as a song at Sitala Wanniya and is given in 
Chapter xv. Once upon a time two families of Veddas lived 


at Aralu Talawa about two miles east of Peria Pillumalai in 
the Eastern Province on the Badulla-Batticaloa road. Now 
these Veddas possessed elephants and cattle, so that when two 
Moormen pedlars came and saw the Veddas living well and in 
comfort, they thought how good it would be to kill them and 
take their goods. The Moormen asked the Veddas to barter 
honey with them, and Moormen and Veddas went to the hill 
now called Yakagala, for there were bambara colonies among its 
rocks. The Veddas went down ladders of creepers to the combs, 
but before they could take the honey the ladders were cut by 
the Moormen and the Veddas were dashed to pieces. The 
Moormen came back to the settlement and when the Veddas' 
wives questioned them as to the whereabouts of their husbands 
the Moormen said they were bathing in a stream close by. The 
women did not believe this and, suspecting foul play, went to 
look for their husbands and found the bodies at the foot of the 
precipice. They went back to their houses, let loose the cattle 
and fired their houses, for they determined to kill themselves. 
The elder sister saw the Moormen running towards them, so 
standing on the edge of a precipice she called her young sister 
to her saying that her bangle was broken. As her younger 
sister stood near her she suddenly grasped her round the body 
and jumped over the cliff. The yaku of these women and of 
their husbands still remain in the neighbourhood of their old 
dwelling-place which because of them looks clean, as if folk still 
lived there. The rock bee still lives on this hill to which the 
Veddas resort to take honey. 


The Veddas make very rough pots. A lump of dark coloured 
clay is taken, patted into the desired shape, left to dry in the 
air, and then baked. The Henebedda Veddas who made the 
pots shown in Plate LXII said that these pots were placed on 
the fire and covered with pieces of dried wood so as to be 
submitted to heat on every side. The less sophisticated Veddas 
of Sitala Wanniya stated that they simply placed the air dried 
pots on the fire, when they were soon baked hard. 

21 — 2 


In both communities it was said that men and women make 
pots, and of five pots bought at Bendiyagalge at different times 
three were said to have been made by men and two by women. 
Further, it was agreed that pots had been made for a very long 
time and our informants at Sitala Wanniya said that they were 
made in their grandfather's grandfather's time, the longest period 
we ever heard a Vedda mention. A small pot, the upper right- 
hand pot of Plate LXII, made by Poromala of Bingoda, has a 
rough chevron pattern upon it ; no importance or meaning was 
attached to this, which was avowedly copied from a pot obtained 
by barter. The thick open pot without a lip shown in the 
lower right-hand corner was made by Poromala (Walaha) who 
volunteered the information that the oldest pots were lipless. 
The large pot in the centre of the upper row was made by his 
wife. The pot to the left of this was made by Poromala 
(Walaha) and the pot underneath this by Randu Wanniya. It 
is worthy of note that though many fragments of wheel-made 
pottery were found in the upper layers of the floor of the 
Bendiyagalge caves, no trace of pottery was found in the 
deepest layer associated with the quartz implements figured 
in Chapter I. 

Tools and Weapons. 

The bow and arrow with the axe are the only iron tools 
used by the Veddas for the chase, for fighting, and for general 
domestic use. The iron arrow and axe heads are obtained by 
barter, as are the areca nut-cutters and strike-a-lights which 
most Veddas now possess. To a limited extent the areca nut- 
cutters are used as tools, for we have seen the final polishing 
and trimming of arrow shafts performed with these. 

No spells are recited or other magic used when making axes 
or bows and arrows. At Henebedda the wood of the kobbevel 
{Allophyhis cobbe) is used for the bow ; a sapling is peeled and 
shaved down until the desired amount of flexibility is obtained, 
it is then stained black. The bow string is made of the bast of 
a tree called aralu {Terniinalia cJiebuld), the same is used to bind 
that part of the shaft of the arrow pierced by the tang of the 
arrow head, the binding being afterwards covered with gum or 







resin obtained from the timbiri tree {Diospyros embryopteris). 
The shaft of the arrow is commonly made of the wood of the 
welan tree {Pierospermunt siiberifolmni). The arrow is still the 
almost universal cutting tool, as we had good opportunity of 
ascertaining at Henebedda. There was no knife in the com- 
munity, and we noticed the skill with which a deer was skinned 
and cut up with an arrow. The Veddas certainly desired no 
better tool, and when we pressed a butcher's knife on one of 
them in order to see how he would handle the unaccustomed 
tool, it was interesting to note how slowly he worked and how 
poor the result was compared with that he obtained with an 
arrow, which he held just above the blade somewhat as a 
European holds a penholder. No less astonishing was the skill 
employed in removing the skull cap with a few strokes of the 
axe, not only was the brain lifted out and cooked entire, but it 
was removed so neatly and cleanly that the result was more 
suggestive of an anatomical preparation than a piece of butcher's 

The Veddas we met were all bad or indifferent shots, and 
we have no doubt that game is seldom shot at a distance 
much beyond fifteen or twenty yards, the marvellous stalking 
of the Veddas enabling them to approach within this distance. 
The bow, to which the string is securely fastened at one end, is 
carefully unstrung when not in use. To string it, this end is 
placed upon the ground, the upper end of the shaft and the 
string being held in the hands, the sole of one foot is then 
placed against the middle of the shaft which is steadied, we 
might almost say gripped, between the great toe and the second 
toe. Much of the weight of the body is thrown against the 
middle of the shaft while the hands pull down the upper end to 
which the string is quickly secured, as is shown in Plate LXIII. 
Plate LXIV shows the position of the hands and arms imme- 
diately before the arrow is released. The bowman is Handuna 
of Henebedda, who is left-handed and who in spite of being the 
father of a large family remains the only left-handed individual 
in the community. The length of a bow collected at Henebedda 
was 172 cm., while four arrows also obtained at Henebedda 
varied from 88 to 105 cm. in length. 


It appears that painted and lacquered arrows were some- 
times presented to the Veddas by the Sinhalese kings as signs 
of gratitude or favour, just as ceremonial forms of other objects 
were presented to particular Sinhalese\ Dr Willey told me of 
a lacquered bow and arrow which he heard of among a com- 
munity of sophisticated Veddas, and which he was told ultimately 
found their way to the Kandy Museum. Among the peasant 
Sinhalese of Nilgala we heard of a lacquered arrow — said to 
have been lost recently — which, according to tradition, had been 
presented many generations ago to the Vedda ancestors of its 
last owner by one of the kings of Ceylon. With regard to the 
specimen in the Kandy Museum, the arrow is feathered in the 
usual Vedda style, the condition of the lacquer on it shows that 
it is of considerable age. The iron which is said to belong to it 
is loose, and it is entirely unlike any arrow head we have seen. 
Instead of having a tang it has a socket into which the end of 
the shaft must have fitted, and there is a shoulder or " stop " 
upon the iron. The bow shown us as having been acquired 
with the arrow was in much better condition and had a small 
band of silver or some metal resembling silver round it. 
According to the account given at the museum both specimens 
were procured from a priest who gave a history of the specimens 
which does not connect them with any Veddasl 

Traps and snares are unknown among the least sophisticated 
Veddas, but at Danigala we saw a small deadfall trap avowedly 


The importance of honey in the Vedda diet has been men- 
tioned in Chapter IV as well as the large part it plays in barter. 
The honey of the bmnbara {Apis indica) is taken in June and 
July, though at other times of the year small combs are taken 

•* There is in ihe Colombo Museum a beautifully lacquered weaver's shuttle, pre- 
sented to certain cloth makers by one of the Sinhalese kings. 

"^ It was stated that the bow and arrow had been found in the verandah of a 
disused house with some broken articles said to have been inrown there, having been 
taken from the ivalaiiwa (house) of MoUigoda Adigar. The house was in the Kegalle 
district. The villagers gave the bow and arrow to a priest who brought them to the 

Plate LXIII 

Handuna of Henebedda stringing his bow 




from trees. Besides the bambara other species including the 
small stingless bee supply a considerable quantity. The first 
two months of our sojourn in the Vedda country (January 
and February) was at a time when honey was particularly 
scarce, and even at the end of March and in April it was 
not abundant, yet such was the courtesy of the Veddas that 
each community managed to make us a small present of 
honey, though this often entailed a long search and the combs 
were frequently full of grubs. In two communities only, which 
were better off than the others, namely Danigala and Kulu- 
kalaeba, were we given large pots of strained honey, the remains 
of the previous year's store. 

The manner in which bambara colonies are regarded as 
property has been discussed in Chapter V. Writing in 1886 
Nevill says, " Honey forms a great part of their diet. It is 
eaten fresh in large quantities, wax and all ; combs with young 
bees in them being considered especially wholesome. It was 
also the practice formerly to store strips of dried meat in honey, 
filling in a cavity of some tree with it, the cavity being first 
lined with clay. At present they barter away their surplus 
meat and honey, during the hunting season, and keep no store 
for the rainy season. This often brings privation and is one 
cause of the rapid decrease in their numbers. 

" They tell me their health is never so good as when their 
food largely consists of yams and honey. 

" To procure honey they rapidly cut open hollow trees, even 
of the hardest wood ; and to take the hives of the large black 
bambara bee, they make long ladders of cane, called ' rang 
kendiya,' by which they descend precipices, and cut off the 
combs adhering to their sides. 

" They do this at night, generally, as the bees are not so 
savage then ; and smoke them with a sort of resin. The hives 
are often cut off with a sort of wooden sword, made for the 
occasion. These frail ladders swing fearfully, and the task is 
so dangerous, only the boldest and most athletic attempt it. 
While engaged on the task they sing lustily, songs specially 
made, which appease the spirit of the rock, and prevent him 
from dashing the hunter off the ladder. They also go about 



the work with songs, so as to get up a certain degree of excite- 
ment, necessary to carry them through the task. 
A song is chanted, and a little honey sprinkled 
for the spirits, before the combs are cut off the 

Before honey collecting as many pots as pos- 
sible are made and old pots and gourds are over- 
hauled. The wooden sword which Nevill mentions 
is probably the viasliya (fig. 12). This is a stout 
stick about 2^ metres long with four prongs at 
one end, which the Vedda carries hanging by a loop 
from his forearm and which he uses to detach the 
comb and convey it into the vessel called a vialu- 
dema in which the honey is collected. This is also 
carried hanging from the forearm and should be 
made of deer's hide so that it may not be broken 
against the rocks as the honey collector swings 
to and fro. Plate LXV shows a mahidema collected 
at Sitala Wanniya. An arrow is also carried and 
is largely used in detaching the combs from the 

Before taking the honey a bundle of green 
leaves is .set alight and lowered in order to stupefy 
the bees. The smoker is called odiya (Sin. hula) 
and the creeper attached to it yotwella^. Several 
men of the community join together to collect 
rock-honey, the whole spoil being equally divided 
without any special consideration for the owner of 
the land, though it seemed that the owner would 
decide when the honey should be collected. The 
women accompany their men to crags and gulleys 
where the bambara build their combs. They hold 
torches and sing while the honey is being collected. 

Plate LXV I shows a gourd, used as a hive for 
a colony of the stingless bee, hanging outside one 

1 Op. cit. p. 190. 

Fi". 12. '^ For the use of these see Chapter IV where the pantomime of 

Masliya x j^^. honey getting is described. 

Plate LXV 

Deerskin vessel (maludeiua) used for collecting' honey 

Plate LXVI 

Gourd used as bee hive (Henebedda) 


of the huts in the Morane chena settlement at Henebedda. 
It was shown us with pride by Handuna who said he was 
keeping it for his twelve year old son. He told us that in the 
old days the hollow branches, the homes of colonies of these 
bees, were frequently kept in the rock-shelters. 

The ladder with the help of which bambara honey is collected 
consists of a greatly elongated loop of cane, apparently derived 
from a species of CalamiLS, across which rungs of creeper are 
stretched. In Plate LV (p. 290) there can be seen the bottom 
of the ladder some fifty feet long, used for training the young, 
hung from the top of the cliff across the face of the rock mass 
at Sitala Wanniya. In spite of the fact that honey is usually 
gathered at night the Veddas do not travel or hunt at night 
and know only two stars by name. One of these is a star or 
more probably a planet which often appears close to the moon 
and is called pantarii which, we were told, is the name by which 
the Sinhalese know it. The other named star appears soon 
after sunset, always in the same place and before the other stars, 
and is almost certainly Venus ; this is called irabada tarua, 
i.e. " side of sun star." Although the Veddas hunt in the dusk 
of the dawn the idea that anyone would roam about at night 
seemed absolutely ludicrous to them (Sitala Wanniya), they 
roared with laughter at it, " why should one go into the jungle ? 
it would be too dark to see to shoot, besides bears are about, 
absurd idea," they laughed again, in fact it was quite ten minutes 
before Kaira had forgotten the joke. 


All Veddas chew eagerly, but as they can rarely obtain a 
supply of areca nuts they commonly use instead of these the 
bark of the demata tree {Gmelina asiaticd) and the dawata tree 
{Carallia iiitegerrhna). Concerning the other plants that they 
use as masticatories Nevill says, " They occasionally chew the 
leaves of several aromatic herbs, particularly AnisocJiiliis siif- 
fruticosus, a sort of sage that grows on rocks. The areca does 
not grow wild in the Eastern Province, but Veddas are very 
fond of the seeds of the lakada bush, Gardenia carinata, a 


beautiful species of Gardenia with fragant flowers and crimped 
laurel-like leaves. These seeds or nuts are astringent and to 
me resemble exactly in taste those of the areca palm. They 
are only an occasional luxury however. The bark which he 
chews is almost a necessity to a Vedda, the leaves or seeds a 
mere luxury^" 

It is not always that the Veddas can obtain lime, which they 
make by burning the shells of a land snail wantaeko {Cyclo- 
phoriis iuvolvulus). The shells are laid on red hot pieces of 
charcoal, more glowing embers are heaped around and upon 
them, and the whole is fanned with a tuft of green leaves for a 
few minutes, when the embers surrounding the shells are raked 
away and the shells allowed to cool before being crushed and 
dropped into the vessel in which the lime is carried. This is 
often a tin match box or it may be a brass covered cartridge 
case. Specially made lime spatulae do not exist, but one Vedda 
of Henebedda had a long broad nail with which he removed the 
lime from his tin match box. 

The betel pouch is usually a roughly sewn bag of trade 
cloth, but the Henebedda Veddas also make pouches of monkey 
skin, one of which is shown in Plate LXVII. We omitted to 
inquire how the hair was removed, but probably it was singed 
off, the whole skin being subsequently scraped. 

^ Op. cit. Vol. I. p. 191. 

Plate LXVII 

Betel pouch made of monkey skin (Henebedda) 





The Coast Veddas or Verdas occupy a number of settlements 
in the Tamil zone on the east coast. They exceed in number 
both the Village Veddas of Bintenne and their wilder neighbours 
of the borders of Uva and the Eastern Province ; this is no 
doubt due to the fact that in the majority of Coast Veddas there 
is a large admixture of Tamil blood, and the comparatively 
thriving condition of their settlements must be attributed to the 
same cause. The date of their first arrival on the coast and of 
their subsequent intermarriage with the Tamils is quite uncertain; 
the latter state that there have always been Veddas in the 
neighbourhood of the sites they now occupy, but the Veddas 
themselves have a tradition that they come from inland. Knox 
does not mention them, but Nevill considers that they come 
from Sabaragamuwa (Sufferagam), being driven thence in the 
17th century. 

" The Vaeddas say that they never were related to these 
Coast Vaeddas, and do not know when they came to the Coast, 
or where they came from, nor did they ever hear that they 
belonged to any waruge of the race. 

" The Coast Vaeddas do not know when they came or how 
they came, but they say that long ago their ancestors came from 
the Gala, far beyond the hills to the west. They also sometimes 
say they came from Kukulu-gammaeda and spread out along 
the Coast. Some say this is Kukulugam near the Verukal ; 
others suppose it to be somewhere far away^" 

1 Op. cit. Vol. I. p. 183. 


We found that the Coast Veddas spoke of themselves as 
Verdas and said that long ago their fathers came from inland. 
They all speak Tamil, but some assert that they still know, and 
at times use among themselves, their old Vedda language, but 
when we asked the men who made this statement to speak in 
their ancestral dialect they spoke Sinhalese\ Besides this a few 
of the older men know the names of some of the Vedda wariige, 
while others are able to trace their descent to them. 

The Coast Vedda is darker, taller and more stoutly built 
than the true Veddas. In fact they generally resemble low 
caste Tamils, yet in almost every settlement there are one or 
two men shorter than their comrades and presenting an almost 
typical Vedda caste of countenance. The women are all much 
bigger than true Vedda women and would pass for Tamils, after 
whose fashion they dress. 

Plate LXVIII, figs, i and 2, represent Verdas from settle- 
ments to the north of Kalkudah. 

The Verdas build comfortable huts in small clearings, usually 
within a mile of the sea ; they cultivate maize and pumpkins 
and other easily grown crops round their houses and in patches 
of clearing in the surrounding jungle. 

They have plenty of pots and baskets and also possess drums 
and fishing gear, so that their mode of life differs but little from 
that of the poor and low caste Tamils who are their neighbours. 
One, two, or more rarely, three houses stand in each clearing, and 
it seems that the people living in each clearing are closely related 
by blood or connected by marriage. 

The chief Verda settlements north of Batticaloa are Pellan- 
chenai near Kalkudah 20 miles from Batticaloa and at Varkanari 
some 10 miles north of Kalkudah on the far side of the river 
which is crossed by a ferry at Valarchchenai. At Panichchen- 
keni some 14 miles further north is another ferry, where the local 
Verdas act as ferrymen, while there are two other Verda settle- 
ments some three miles beyond the ferry at sites called Vellaiade 
and Kandaladi respectively. 

1 Nevill (loc. cit.) noticed the same state of affairs, he said " Only the old men 
speak what they call Vaedda, which is pure but quaint Sinhalese with a Vaedda accent, 
as a rule, though mixed with some words characteristic of true Vaedda." 


Fig. I. Coast Veddas. 

Fig. 2. Coast Veddas of Vakarai 


Plate LXIX 

Fig. I, Settlement of Coast Veddas 

Fig. 2. Settlement of Coast Veddas 


There are a few Verdas at Panichchenkeni, while near Vakarai 
still further to the north there is a Verda settlement of consider- 
able size. Some eight miles beyond this are two Verda settle- 
ments Parchenai and Nargantonai situated close together. We 
heard of other smaller settlements of Coast Veddas in the 
neighbourhood of Batticaloa, but these were not visited as time 
was short and it appeared that those Verdas we did not see 
differed in no respect from those we met. We were told that 
formerly there were Coast Veddas south of Batticaloa and we 
later discovered that there were, and still are, certain shrines or 
temples within a few miles of the coast (e.g. at Mandur), which 
were generally recognised as Vedda shrines at which Veddas 
especially worshipped. This matter has been alluded to in 
Chapter Vlll, and here it is only necessary to point out that the 
religion of the Coast Veddas is strongly tinged with Tamil 
customs and beliefs; indeed, many Verdas had Hindu sect marks 
upon their foreheads. 

Some, but not all, of the Coast Veddas know the names of 
the wanige to which they belong, and a i&^N also know the names 
of some of the more important ivanige of the Veddas inland. 
Uru wariige appears to be the tuaruge to which most of the 
Coast Veddas who remembered their ancestral jy^r//^^ belonged, 
but a few men stated that they belonged to Ogatam, Kavatam, 
Umata or Umatam, Aembalaneduwe and Aembale luarnge ; the 
last named and the one before it probably being the same as the 
Aembela waruge found inland. Some of the Coast Veddas 
whom we questioned said they had heard of, and still knew of 
certain of the old Vedda wariige, and such men were generally 
able to mention Morane zvaruge while fewer also knew of 
Unapane zvaruge. 

The Coast Veddas have become expert fishermen and make 
and use various forms of nets including a cast net. They also 
spear and shoot fish, using a bifid iron spear-head which they 
have adopted from the Tamils. For shooting fish they use the 
usual Vedda bow, but the arrow has become a harpoon with a 
shaft as long as the bow into which the iron with its running 
line fits loosely. One of the nets used by the Coast Veddas is 
seen drying behind the house in the background of Plate LXIX, 



Fig- 13- Verda bow and 
harpoon x -^. 

Iron harpoon head x \. 

fig. 2, while Mr Storey's book con- 
tains an excellent photograph of these 
people spearing fish^. 

The length of the Verda bow and 
harpoon shaft shown in fig. 13 are 
208 cm. and 220 cm. respectively. The 
bow is an extremely powerful weapon, 
its diameter at its thickest part being 
about 3'3 cm. 

In spite of the perfectly obvious fact 
that the majority of the Verdas are more 
Tamil than Vedda the old Vedda pride 
of blood survives and some of the older 
Verdas denied that they intermarried 
with Tamils. 

Children of marriages in which the 
wariige of the contracting parties were 
known took their father's zvariige, but it 
seemed to be a matter of no account 
whether or no individuals of the same 
wariige intermarried. 

Everyone avoids eating fowl and all 
our informants both male and female 
denied that they ever ate it, though 
often suggesting that others might do 
so. On the other hand, one informant 
who bred fowls for sale summed the 
matter up with an emphatic " Veddas 
don't eat fowls." No reason was given 
for this abstinence but all agreed that 
their ancestors had not eaten fowl, 
though the majority of our informants 
admitted that they would breed fowls 
for sale and kill and prepare fowls for 
others to eat. Beef was said to be 
generally avoided though it was not 

1 Hunting and Shooting in Ceylon, London, 1907, 
P- 330- 


clear what opportunities existed for obtaining it. Deer and pig 
would be killed and eaten, and snakes were said to be killed 
without a scruple though one informant denied that he would 
kill a cobra. 

Time did not allow of any systematic study of the religion of 
the Verdas, but it was clear that this had been much affected by 
Tamil influence while yet retaining some of the more obvious 
outward features of the Vedda cult of the dead. Unfortunately 
we had no opportunity of ascertaining definitely whether the 
Verdas have also retained the essence of the Vedda cult, i.e. the 
belief in the loving-kindness and the guiding influence of the 
spirits of their dead, though since the leader of the dance seen 
at Vakarai showed the classical signs of " possession," there 
seems to be every reason to hold this belief at least provisionally. 
The dance we saw rehearsed at Vakarai was said to be performed 
for sickness and in thanksgiving when a good harvest had been 
gathered. The dance took place at night, the men dancing in 
relays till daylight, the women squatting on the ground, but 
taking no part. No food is taken during the dance, but some is 
placed upon the " altar " kndarain (lit. cage or small shed, T) 
which is eaten by all in the morning. 

The temple seen at Pellanchenai, of which a rough plan is 
given in fig. 14, was a building some 12 feet long by about 
10 broad ; it faced east and the roof was carried forward for a 
few feet beyond the front wall in which was a door. A stout 
pole (marked P), thought to be some 30 feet long and consisting 
of a young tree with the bark removed, stood in front of the 
temple about 30 feet from the entrance. To the north of the 
pole and about 8 feet from it was a hole in the ground F, really 
a small well containing water, while to the south of the pole and 
at a distance of about 12 feet from it there was a young tree 
before which a small platform T {kndarain) was built, on which 
a rough stone rested. Some distance beyond the pole and 
somewhat to the south of it stood a tree H, apparently quite 
dead, with a fringe of dried leaves and small twigs round its 
trunk, before which were the remains of a kndarain ; to the 
south-west of the pole and roughly in the position of Y in the 
plan, a limb of a tree was planted in the soil. The branches 


springing from the upper end of this limb had been removed 
with the exception of three which were left to support between 
them a rough earthenware pot. The remains of a kiidarani also 
existed somewhat to the south-east of the doorway about the 
spot marked X on the plan. The post supporting the weight of 
that portion of the roof extending beyond the door had tied 
round it a fringe of dried shredded coconut leaves. Within the 
temple stood a kudarani (marked K) behind which in one corner 
of the temple was a model of a sailing boat about two feet long 
partly square-rigged and clearly meant to imitate a European 
ship. The temple was for the worship of Kapalpei, Ammal and 




Oe op 

5! ^^ 


Fig. 14. Plan of Verda temple and its surroundings. 

Komara Devam. The name Kapalpei means ship-demon. We 
could only discover that he is regarded as the most powerful of 
the beings worshipped and that he is a foreigner who reached 
the country in a ship. Ammal is a Tamil Goddess who sends 
smallpox and skin diseased 

We could at the time discover nothing concerning Komara 
Devam, though doubtless he is the same as Kumara Deva, an 
immigrant deity, whose characteristic weapon is a silver sword, 
who was one of the chief spirits invoked to remove sickness by 

1 Mr A. Barr Kumarakulasinghe tells me that there are temples to this Goddess 
at Jaffna, but that there are none in Batticaloa though possibly there may be some in 
the neighbourhood. 


the inhabitants of GongoUa a primitive jungle village some 20 
miles from the coast in the Eastern Province^ 

When the dance, of which we saw a partial rehearsal, is 
about to take place the inside of the temple is decorated with 
cloths and the green branches of trees including coconut leaves, 
and the model of the boat which commemorates the arrival of 
Kapalpei is hoisted to the top of the tall pole standing 
outside the temple. If the dance is undertaken in order 
to cure a sick man, milk is placed in the pot which is sup- 
ported on the rough stand (fig. V) mentioned above. The 
sick individual, and probably the dancers, are fed from this and 
at the end of the night's dance the last portion is thrown out 
into the jungle for Kapalpe. 

The dancers should wear a petticoat made of strips of coco- 
nut leaves and green leafy twigs of other trees, and it was stated 
that the ministrant wore these just as did the other dancers. 
After the dance a number of these ceremonial garments are 
preserved in the temple where they are allowed to dry. Rice, 
plantain and chewing material are piled on the kiidarain during 
the ceremony and camphor is burnt. Kapalpe sees the food 
provided and the honour done him and is propitiated. 

The stonQ pilliyar has been frankly adopted from the Tamils 
though Mr Kumarakulasinghe pointed out that no sacred Tamil, 
stone was so rough^ ; further, according to the same informant 
Tamils do not dance round either /?7/zj^?r or kiidarain. 

At Kalkudah it was said that there was a special " priest " or 
ministrant whom we did not see. We gathered that in some 
way he officiated in connection with the land cultivated by the 
community and he perhaps corresponded to the Sinhalese 

Some idea of the actual character of the ceremony and of the 
nature of the kiidarain and pole can be derived from the dance 
rehearsed for our benefit at Vakarai. Plate LXX, fig. i 

^ Cf. Brenda Z. Seligmann, "A Devil Ceremony of the Peasant Sinhalese, "y(?«;-«. 
Roy. Anlhrop. Inst. Vol. XXXIX, 1909. 

- This may be true of the Tamils of the east coast, but we have seen some shrines 
containing equally rough stones set up by Tamil coolies on plantations. Worship 
may be performed at such shrines, offerings of rice and chewing materials being made 
at them and afterwards eaten. 

S. v. 22 


shows the site selected for the dance and the arrangements 
made. The dancing ground consisted of one of those sandy 
spaces surrounded by a growth of scrub and low trees which are 
so common on the east coast. A kiidaravi, the upper part of 
which was covered with leaves, had been prepared, the top of 
this was depressed so as to present a sort of tray upon which a 
white cloth was laid ; within the tray were laid flowers, which in 
this case did duty for the food offered in the ceremony. No 
model of a ship was hoisted to the top of the pole, which was 
encircled by wreaths of small leafy bunches at heights of about 
6 to 12 feet from the ground. 

There were five dancers, each of whom held a bunch of leafy 
twigs in. each hand, which when the dance began were held 
against the body just below the umbilicus. 

The leader of the dance was an old man who held a piece of 
cloth instead of a bunch of leaves. Behind each dancer stood 
a man who supported him by clapping his hands round the 
dancer's body below the latter's hands, i.e. over the hypogastric 
and epipubic region. At first the dancers faced the kudarain, 
their hands being held low against their thighs, but soon they 
began to move round the altar in single file (Plate LXX, fig. 
2). As they danced they began to quiver, the rippling motion 
of their muscles from the knees upwards becoming progressively 
more violent, until as the dancers moved round the altar the 
majority of their superficial muscles all over the body were 
twitching irregularly. As the dance became quicker the dancers 
feigned exhaustion, leaning or falling back into the arms of their 
supporters, but this did not last long and dancing was not inter- 
rupted ; soon the men left the altar and danced round the pole, 
the irregular quivering of their muscles being very striking. At 
times they shouted and raised the bunches of leaves which they 
held in their hands above their heads. They continued to 
dance round the altar and round the pole alternately; as they 
danced round the pole their movements became more violent, 
the men supporting the dancers let go and the latter now danced 
and leapt round the pole and beat the leaves tied to it with the 
leaves they held in their hands. As the vigour of their move- 
ments lessened, their supporters, who had been following their 

Plate LXX 

Fig-. I. Site of dance at Vakarai, showing kudaram and pole 

Fig. 2. Dancing round the kudaratn 

Plate LXXI 

h ^^' 

i^:» : .. ^^ 



The end of the dance at Vakarai 



motions, once more put their arms round them, soon after which 
the dancers fell limply into their arms. The leader of the dance 
seemed especially excited at this stage and, trembling and 
quivering all over, stood back to the pole and wildly waved his 
scarf in the air. Soon his movements became less vigorous, his 
head nodded on his shoulders and hung down on his chest 
as he addressed the other dancers in a harsh and broken voice 
(Plate LXXI). In view of the Vedda ceremonies which we sub- 
sequently saw we have no doubt that he prophesied good fortune. 
It appeared to us that this old man really presented the ordinary 
characteristics of Vedda " possession," i.e. the dance, though only 
a rehearsal, had produced the customary effects associated with 
it, and certainly this old man's muscles continued to quiver 
irregularly for some time after the dance was over. As for the 
remaining dancers we have no doubt that the dance remained 
for them as it had begun, simply a rehearsal and an amusing 
piece of acting. 

Such dances are held only to cure sickness or in return for 
good crops, and it was emphatically denied that anything similar 
took place after childbirth or death. 

Very little was elicited concerning death and mourning cere- 
monies. The corpse is washed, and it seemed that although this 
is usually done by a barber or dJiobie (professional washerman) it 
might be done by one or more of the relatives of the dead man. 
The grave must be at some distance from the habitations of the 
living and also from their cultivation patches. No fire is lit on 
the grave. A feast is held a few days after burial, which 
appears to be called bati bane, and the food for this, especially 
rice, is provided by the near relatives of the dead man and 
distributed. A kudaram is built upon which the food is placed 
for " a short time " as an offering to Kapalpei, after which it is 
eaten by the assembled people. 

This account agrees with that given by the Sarasins, who 
record that a coast Vedda, Pereman, when asked about his religion 
" laughed and said they had that of the Tamils, they honoured 
their dead by cooking rice in front of their house, folding their 
hands, saying a few words and then eating the rice. As they 
did this they spoke the name of the deceased and said : ' Help 

22 — 2 


US in danger, sickness etc' When we enquired whether their 
dead Hved on as spirits he repHed, they did not consider whether 
the departed were Hving or dead, they were just spirits, in Tamil 
sanii or deivi, in Sinhalese yako ; all spirits were alike, neither 
good nor bad. Another coast Vedda named Patiniya told us 
that their religion was that of the Tamils. In memory of their 
dead, whom they called jF^-^^, they cooked rice and ate it; they 
invoked the j'aka in sickness, etc.^ " 

Just as Kapalpei sent sickness, so death was also attributed 
to him, but perhaps not epidemics, for it appeared to be generally 
considered that a single death would satisfy him for the time, so 
that it would be days or weeks before he would be expected to 
send sickness or death again. 

1 0J>. cii. p. 498. 


By C. S. Myers. 

The account of Vedda music given in this section is based 
upon an examination of thirty-four phonographic records of 
songs obtained from the Veddas by Dr and Mrs Seligmann^ 

These songs are probably simpler in structure than any other 
native songs hitherto studied. 

Nine of the tunes are composed of only two notes. In three 
others the tune consists also of two notes, but with the addition 
of one or more unimportant grace-notes. These twelve songs 
may be conveniently classed as belonging to Group A. 

Twelve other songs consist of three notes only. These we 
shall class under Group B. 

Nine songs contain four notes, and one consists of five notes. 
These we shall consider as Group C. 

Of the songs in Group A, in no case is the range sensibly 
greater than our whole-tone interval. With the exception of 
two anomalous songs, no song in Group B has a range sensibly 
greater than our minor third. With one exception, no song in 
Group C has a range greater than a fourth. 

There is evidence that the songs of Group A are more 
archaic than those of Groups B and C. For, unaware of the 
above system of classification, Dr Seligmann was asked to 
indicate those songs which appeared to him (on grounds of 
language, ceremonial, etc.) most probably archaic and those 

[^ We received the manuscript of this chapter from Dr Myers in November 1909, 
but owing to our absence from England, publication was deferred for six months. 
Meanwhile, in the Quarterly Magazine of the International Musical Society (Year xi. 
Part 2, 19 10) there appeared a short account of Vedda music by Herr Max Wertheimer, 
based on an examination of four phonographic records obtained by Frau M. Selenka. 
Dr Myers has thus had no opportunity of alluding to Herr Wertheimer's observations 
in this chapter.] 


which were hkely to be modern or foreign. Of the ten songs 
which he considered to be probably archaic, four belong to 
Group A, four to Group B, and only two to Group C ; while of 
those in which he suspected modern, or foreign influence, only 
one belongs to Group A, five to Group B, and five to Group C. 
None of the Sinhalese songs collected by Dr Seligmann belongs 
to Group A. 

In this connection it is also noteworthy that the Sitala 
Wanniya Veddas are considered by Dr Seligmann to have been 
less exposed to outside influence than other Veddas, and that of 
the three songs sung by them belonging to Group C two are 
believed by him to be late or foreign. There are altogether 
eight songs of the Sitala Wanniya Veddas, in only two of which 
is an interval sung sensibly greater than a whole-tone. 

While the Sitala Wanniya Veddas may be considered the 
most primitive, the Veddas of Dambani and Bulugahaladena 
are semi-civilised, having absorbed much Sinhalese culture, 
and the Bandaraduwa Veddas are also much affected by the 
Sinhalese, with whom they are now living. The Henebedda 
Veddas have only lately begun to be affected by the Sinhalese. 

Not only is Vedda music primitive because the notes of each 
song are so few and the range so small, but also because the 
natives are ignorant of any other than vocal music. Dr Seligmann 
writes that the " uncontaminated Veddas," e.g. those of Sitala 
Wanniya, have no musical instruments whatever. Others, how- 
ever, e.g. those of Henebedda, although they had no drums at 
the time of his visit, borrowed them, when opportunity offered, 
from the Sinhalese, especially for songs belonging to the 
kolaviadmua ceremony. The two oldest Vedda ceremonies, 
namely, the dancing round an arrow in order to get game 
(p. 213), and the kirikoraJia ceremony in which the dance is 
round an offering of coconut milk (p. 218), were accompanied 
by the rhythmic slapping of the hands on the abdomen and 
thighs. At Bandaraduwa, the Veddas were found to possess 
drums of Sinhalese pattern and make. 

The songs of the Veddas may be divided according to their 
purpose into two main classes, the one consisting of charms and 
invocations, the other of lullabies and songs sung for amuse- 
ment. Dr Seligmann observes that among all Veddas the 

MUSIC 343 

invocation songs are accompanied by dance movement, and that 
the purpose of such song and dance is to produce possession by 
the yakn or spirits. 

Methods of Analysis. 

The speed of the phonograph used for studying the records 
of these songs was so regulated that every record reproduced 
a tone ^' = 256 vibrations per second, a tone of this pitch, emitted 
by a pitch-pipe, having been always sounded into the recording 
phonograph just before each record was taken by Dr Seligmann 
in the field. Consequently when the reproducing phonograph 
emitted the note, one was sure that the speed of this instrument 
agreed with that of the instrument into which the song had been 
sung. That is to say, the reproducing phonograph reproduced 
the exact tempo and pitch of the recorded song. 

A rough notation was then made of the song, a metronome 
being employed to determine its approximate tempo. 

Finally a more accurate determination of the pitch of the 
various tones was made by means of an Appunn's Tonmesser, 
an instrument consisting of a box of carefully-attuned metal 
tongues, any one of which could be sounded at will by means 
of a bellows worked by the feet. The particular instrument 
employed contained 65 tongues, the pitch of each tongue differing 
by two vibrations per second from its neighbour and the extreme 
range being an octave, from c" to c , i.e. from 128 to 256 vibra- 
tions per seconds 

The songs are transcribed as accurately as our European 
notation allows. Bars are only inserted when the regularity of 
the rhythm clearly permitted their use. A + or — above a note 
indicates that it should be somewhat sharpened or flattened. 
Greater precision may be obtained by observing the numbers 
written beneath the notes. These give the mean vibration- 
frequency of the tone in question, obtained by comparison 
with the standard Tonmesser. The sign V indicates a " breath 
mark," i.e. a short rest during which the singer draws a breath. 

^ For further details in manipulation, the reader is referred to the writer's Essay- 
on "The Ethnological Study of Music," in Anthropological Essays presented to 
Eihoard Burnett Tylor, Oxford, 1907, pp. 235 — 254. 



Notation of the Records. 

No. 40. Invocation to the Nae Vaku sung by Kuma of Dambani. 
J = 1 60. 



No. 22 A. Commemorating women whose husbands were treacherously 
killed while collecting honey ; sung by Hudumenike of Bandaraduwa. 

= 160. 

/r V 

^ V 




No. 21. Sung by women to men returning without honey; song of 
Sitala Wanniya Veddas. 








■^f?K^^(^ ^t^- 

No. 38. Sung while taking honey ; song of the Sitala Wanniya Veddas. 


--- ---r> _-- _-_ f^ _.. __ V--- 


3H4 4-22 


— etc. 

No. 1 1 (2). Amusement Song of the Veddas of Bandaraduwa ; sung by 
Tissahami, the " V^edda Arachi." 

196. Zve lower. 

+ + V 


:^f=ft f7^ ^=F 




MUSIC 345 

No. 1 8 (2). Song of the Bandaraduwa Veddas when driving monkeys. 










a ^^jjji 

^^f^^^^^g^ etc 

No. I (i). Invocation at the kirikoraha ceremony of the Kovil Vanamai 
Veddas ; sung by the " Vedda Arachi." 

,' = 80. %ve lowe?'. 

+ + + + + + 

+ + + + + + + 


281 248 


No. I (2). Invocation at the ki?'ikoraha ceremony of the Kovil Vanamai 
Veddas; sung by the "Vedda Arachi." 


Tfff^r ^rfrrtrrrTf^ 






No. 19. Lullaby; sung by Hudumenike of Bandaraduwa. 
J =208. 



- etc. 



No. 52. Invocation sung during ceremony to exorcise Yakit from the 


1= 104. Zve lower. 




0^0 0-0-0-0-^9-^ i# i^zae 

■. ^ ] /U^U V^^ ^ \ /vV\/^^ \ /¥¥¥V UM 




+ + + + + + + + 

/N + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + 

No. 42. Song {Tanditta etc.), sung by the Vidane (headman) of the 
Dambani Veddas. 

J =108. Zve lower. 

g^ Pg? = F^' ff?^- 








^ ^^rffT 

= -r-r- f ^ : 




No. 43. Song {Talapita Sindii), sung by Kama of Dambani. The tune 
is that of No. 42, but the tones are e and/, corresponding to 160 and 172 
vibrations per sec. 


No. 30 (i). Invocation at the Riiwala ceremony of the Yaka and Yakini 
of Wahmbagala. 

J=ioo. %ve lower. 

+ + 4+ ++ ++ ++ ++ ++ ++ + + + +4 + + + 


! I H- i ! -I — }— ' ! I |_i ! 









No. 2>7- Song; the first part sung by Tandi, wife of Handuna of Sitala 

= i8o. 


> + + 


+ + 






552 592 504 

The second part sung by the husband to the same tune but in different 
pitch ^'=/o#. 

No. 31. Amusement Song; sung by Sita Wanniya of Henebedda. 

^=176. 8ve lower. 






- etc. 

No. 20. Song asking for gifts ; sung by a woman of Bandaraduwa. 



876 332 296 


No. 31 A. Dance Song; sung by Sita Wanniya of Henebedda. 
J = 88. '^ve lo%oer. 

m — 4 = 


i— r 


812 280 264 






No. 34 (2). Lullaby ; sung by Tandi, wife of Handuna of Sitala Wanniya. 



+ + 

+ + 


^— ^ 

•- ^^li 

-^ — etc. 

508 464 428 



No. 27. Invocation of the Mahayakino at the kola?nadu'wa ceremony; 
sung by Handuna of Henbedda. 

^=132. 87/^ lower. 





240 212 

No. 36 (2). Amusement Song ; sung by Handuna of Sitala Wanniya. 
J=2io. 87^^ lower. 

-^ — U^J 1- — «? 

■ 4-a>-^-^ -^- 

_ etc. 


200 210 



No. 29. Invocation to the A^ae Yaku ; sung by Wannaku of Uniche. 
^ = 92. Zve lower. 







No. 2. Maligi, a honey-collecting song of the Henebedda Veddas ; sung 
by Tissahami, the "Vedda Arachi." 

J=i26. Zve lower. 



■^£Eg^EiE^E^EEEiEgEi =^= ^S 


296 280 248 

No. 39. Amusement Song ; sung by Kuma of Bulugahaladena. 

= 120. 


+- + + + + + + 

-H 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 \—^-»—M- 

+ + + + + + 

S F^ i^^^H" 

H 1 1 ( ! H 


+ + + + + 

-I — I — I — I — h 







No. 14 (2). Invocation used by the Bandaraduwa Veddas; sung by 
a Sinhalese^ 


Zve lower. 

+ . 


+ + 

""> ^ ^ 

y 2 1-^- 


• J 

1 r-^- 


fc ^ 1 * 



^ ^ 

^ ' 


%7 # 


«J , 226 

296 264 

Repeated ad lib. 



No. 32. Invocation of Bambura Yaka; sung by Handuna of Sitala 

Zve lower. 

+ + + + + + 



-I 1 1 i II 

284 268 252 230 


+ + + ^ 


No. 33. Mulpola Itia Waniya; sung by Kaira of Sitala Wanniya. 
^'==208. 2)Ve lower. 



y g g- 

260 276 

226 222 




pg^^ ^^ Bs^^pgag^ 




No. 26 (i). Invocation sung at the kirikoralia ceremony at Bandaraduwa. 
^'=138. 2>ve lower. 


+ + 


^^— I— I— I — \ — I— I — I 



198 242 254 ^ r ^ w w 


242 254 

At end. 






-•^-^ — 



No. 53 (i). Sinhalese rice-harvesting song; sung at Hemberewa (see 
footnote, p. 356). 

^'=132. Sz/i? lower. 

+ + + + + ++ + 

fj 210 254 276 232 

^ Dr Seligmann is uncertain when this invocation is used; it is probably foreign. 



No. 44. Sung when taking honey; sung by Poromala of Henebedda. 
J=i68. Zve lower. 




?280 ?264 

— — I — I I ^ I — t I 1 —I — \ — ^-^^- ^ I I I — .1 — h- 1 — I— I— I— 


-h-h-t— h 






■r-r-r-rrr =&=&=£g^B=g: 


^-t— h-ht 


No. 28 A. Song commemorating two women who committed suicide 
(cf. p. 323) ; sung by Wannaku of Bandaraduwa. 

J = 8o. 



340 464 428 388 

No. 34(1). Lullaby; sung by Tandi, wife of Handuna of Sitala 

J = 96. 

t) '^ 608 676 512 ^ ^ W 

^^ 460 




No. 51. Sinhalese song; sung at Alutnuwara at night while watching 
the crops (see footnote, p. 356). 

^=132. 8ve lower. 

190 254 

^^^jg ^ -r?f^ 



No. 5 (2). Invocation to Bilindi Yaka and Kande Yaka at the Kirikoraha 

^'=80. Sve lower. 



%-t-J—J—ti ^_ J_^_j^_J_ J_ J_ J_i^__4 . 


224 246 272 320 

No. 41. Invocation by the Dambani Veddas of the Nae Yaku. 


%ve lower. 

+ + + + + + 
> > 

^y — y^ g I II 14 — I I'll — ^-K^ — O — |- -'v . g-g J J — 

+ ++-:-+ + ++ + + + + 

fi Tf-nrrf wiri^ 




+ + 

+ + + 

£ r r p- g 

232 204 192 

172 254 

^^ ^-=i ^ , r^^ i 




352 the veddas 

Analysis of the Intervals. 
The Songs of Group A. 

The two columns headed "quotients" and "cents" in the 
accompanying table are obtained from the transcript by the 
following means : 

Song No. 




I -07 5 



I -07 5 






ri 10 





II (2) 

I -104 








22 A 









The quotient is the result of dividing the larger by the smaller 
of the two numbers which express the vibration-frequencies of 
the two tones in each of the songs of this group. Thus in the 
case of Song No. 42, 230 divided by 214 (the figures given in the 
transcript) yields the quotient r075. The cents are hundredth 
parts of our own tempered semitone^ 

It is obvious that the intervals intended to be used in the 
songs of Group A are three in number. The averages are given 
in the following table : 





I -07 5 








Of these the largest (7) is approximately our own whole-tone 
interval, the smallest (a) amounts to five-eighths of our whole- 
tone interval, while the intermediate interval (/S) is almost 

^ Various methods for calculating cents from the vibration-numbers of an interval 
are given by Ellis in his annotated translation of Helmholtz's Sensations of Tone 
(3rd edition, London, 1895), pp. 446 — 451. 



exactly half-way between the values of the two extremes^ The 
interval (a) occurs only in two songs sung by different indi- 
viduals, who, however, were both Dambani Veddas. The 
Dambani singer of No. 43 is also responsible for No. 40, the 
interval of which falls in (7). 

The Songs of Group B. 

Song Number 




31 A 




I -043 
I -050 



I -084 





















The columns headed " quotients " and " cents " in the fore- 
going table measure the intervals — in this Group the pairs of 

1 For purposes of comparison, the following details may prove useful : 




ed semitone 

) J 



minor third . . . 


major third 


fourth ... 


tritone ... 

» J 



just (01 

pure) semitone (15 : 



,, minor tone ( 9 : 



,, major tone ( 8 : 


) ? 

,, minor third ( 5 : 



,, major third ( 4 ; 



„ fourth ( 3 : 



,, tritone (32 : 



„ fifth ( 2 : 




I '059 






I -260 


I '335 




1 -498 




I -1 1 1 


I -1 25 

203 9 10 

I -200 









701 '955 

S. V. 




intervals — for the various songs as in the previous Group. The 
last column, headed "range," expresses (also in the form of 
quotients and cents) the interval between the highest and lowest 
notes of each song. When that interval is not actually sung but 
only calculated, the figures are enclosed in brackets. Song 
No. 14 (2) is omitted from this group as its range and structure 
are obviously different from the rest. Dr Seligmann inde- 
pendently characterises this song as "almost certainly foreign... 
1 find it was sung by a Sinhalese. I should neglect it." 
Song 20 is again exceptional. Its range exceeds four semitones 
(400 cents), or a major third. Here again Dr Seligmann — 
having regard only to evidence of a non-musical character — 
observes that "the words of this song are very late." Song 
No. 37 is somewhat exceptional. The intonation, moreover, is 
not very reliable. 

The remaining songs of this Group fall into three divisions, 
the averages for which are shown in the following table : 










92 213 





II 12 

98 184 






142 175 



It is evident that the range of notes in these three divisions 
is not sensibly different. It amounts approximately to our minor 

This interval is divided in the case of divisions (8) and (e) 
into two intervals, one of which is somewhat smaller than our 
semitone, while the other is in (B) larger, in (e) smaller than our 

In the case of division (^) the interval of a minor third is 
divided into two intervals which are much more nearly equal to 
one another. The same feature characterises Song No. 20, where 
the major third is almost equally bisected. 

In only four of the eleven tunes of this group is an interval 
appreciably larger than a whole tone actually sung by the singer. 



This is shown by the unbracketed numbers in the cohimns 
headed "range." In No. 20 an interval of 414 cents (shghtly 
exceeding a major third) is sung, but this song, as we have 
already observed, is exceptional. In Nos. 31 a and 34(2), an 
interval somewhat less than a minor third is sung, in the former 
of 289, in the latter of 297 cents. In Xo. 31 the interval 
(337 cents) slightly exceeds a minor third. 

The intervals sung in the anomalous song No. 14 (2) are of 
467 and 269 cents. 

The various average values of quotients and cents in the 
songs of groups A and B are set out in the following tables : 















ri 12 


















1 84 



It will be noticed that the difference between I and II, III 
and IV, IV and V is about thirty cents, and that the difference 
between V and VI is about thrice this value. 

TJu Sojigs of Group C. 

It will be remembered that the songs of this group contain 
four different notes. The intervals between the highest and 
lowest notes (maximal range), the intervals between alternate 
notes (an intervening tone omitted) and the intervals between 




immediately successive notes are shown in the following table 
of quotients. Brackets indicate, as before, that the interval in 
question was not actually sung but only calculated. 


32 (also 46) 



28 A 





Interval between 
alternate notes 

I 23 




? 1-37 




[1-21] [1-19] 






I -20 



[? 1-29. 

? ri9 

1-30 ? 1-27 



Interval bet 

ween immediately 

successive n 






I -06 




I "09 




I -05 

1 1-12 


I -08 

? n6 


? 1-12 

? I -06 

! ? nS 







The songs appear to fall into four divisions. In the first of 
these the maximal range is expressed by the quotient 1-235 — 
equal to 365 cents — (nearly a neutral third), and the intervals 
between successive notes are expressed by the quotients ro6, 
J. 10, — equivalent to loi and 165 cents respectively. In the 
third division, the maximal range amounts to 1-33 or 496 cents 
(almost exactly equal to a just fourth) while the successive notes 
average ro6, no and ri4, i.e. loi, 165, and 227 cents. A very 
similar interval in song No. 53 is trisected into almost equal 
intervals, each approximately of 165 cents. In the case of the 
last division, the maximal range averages 1-445, equivalent to 
637 cents (an acute diminished fifth), and the intervals comprise 
again an almost pure fourth, a slightly exaggerated major third, 
and other intervals common to other songs of the group. Of 
the two songs in this division Dr Seligmann writes that in 

"No. 5 there are signs of foreign influence in the invocation 

as it stands, but it has a good old Vedda basis," and that 
"No. 41 is probably late." 

Hence the most significant of the smaller intervals between 

1 These songs are said to be Sinhalese, but in most respects they closely resemble 
the Vedda songs of this group and are therefore included in it. 

MUSIC 357 

successive notes occurring in the songs of Group C are equal to 
loi, 165, 227 cents, which are successively different by about 
6-^ cents. But it will be remembered that the difference between 
certain intervals employed in Group B was found to be about 
30 cents, half of the difference just observed. In Group C we 
have just found the neutral third of 365 cents divided into two 
intervals, one of loi and the other of 165 cents, representing 
approximately three and five of these hypothetical units, each of 

33 cents. The same intervals were found in the division of the 
fourth of 496 cents into 5, 3 and 7 of such units. Again in three 
songs of Group B, the average interval of 317 cents is divided 
into intervals of 142 and 175 cents, differing by 33 cents. In 
view, however, of the want of precision in intonation, it is difficult 
to believe that these differences are significant. 

The value of the fourth, when actually sung in the songs 28, 

34 (i), 51 of Group C, averages r337 or 503 cents. Conse- 
quently it is almost pure. A pure minor third is sung in 
No. 34(1). A neutral third is sung in No. 32, the value of 
which is r235 or 365 cents. In No. 5 (2), the minor third 
which is sung is small, amounting to 1-176 or 281 cents. The 
diminished fifth and the fourth sung in No. 41 correspond 
respectively to 655 and 543 cents. 

Of the smaller intervals, the interval of 165 cents is certainly 
one of the most important. It occurs frequently in Group C 
and also (as 168 cents) in Group A, where it is exactly midway 
between the other two intervals (125 and 205 cents) met with in 
this group. 

Analysis of the Rhythms. 

In the majority of the songs the time is fairly regular, but 
the accents often recur irregularly owing to the variable numbers 
of syllables. The following extracts from the writer's note-book 
will serve to illustrate this general lack of regular measure : 

No. 22 A. Want of regular accent ; number of notes ad 
libitum according to words. 

No. 21. Irregular accent according to number of syllables 
(see notation). 

No. 38. Time regular but without regular accent. 


No. I (i). Frequent interpolation of extra beats owing to 
extra syllables. Rate of beats constant. Little or no grouping 
of beats into larger units (i.e. no measure, bar or tact). 

No. 53. The words dictate the number of notes. 

No. 20. Considerable variation in time and in number of 
notes, regulated by breathing and by number of syllables. 

No. 26. With variations according to recitative. 

No. 28. No regular accent. 

In some songs, however, the measures were more obvious. 

No. 51. Very rhythmical, but occasionally an odd syllable 
is inserted. 

No. 5. Fairly regular, save for a few extra syllables. 

In only a few was the rhythm very well marked, as the 
following extracts show : 

No. 1 1 (2). Very regular rhythm and accent. 

No. 18 (2). Very regular rhythm. 

No. 34 (i). Regular save for breath-marks. 

No. 14 (2). Strict tempo save for breath-marks. 

No. 36. Strict time. 

In five songs, the rhythm is particularly' noteworthy owing to 
the occurrence of bars of five beats. Thus, in No. 18 (2), a bar of 
five beats is inserted three times in the course of the song. One 
of them is shown in the part transcribed. In No. 14 (2), a five- 
bar is introduced in strict time at the close of the tune. Again 
in Nos. 33, 34 (i), 36 (2) there are alternate groups of three and 
five beats. In other words a bar of eight beats is sub-divided 
into two bars containing three and five beats respectively. 

With these exceptions and the striking exception of No. 20, 
no one of the songs is clearly in triple measure, although 
occasionally, e.g. in No. 22 A, a bar of three beats is introduced 
into a song. 

Generally speaking, where the accent occurs sufficiently 
regularly for the measure to be apprehended, the accent is found 
to lie on the first of every two or four beats. 



General Character of Songs. 

The songs have an exceedingly plain character, and are 
devoid of the ornamentation with which we meet in many 
examples of primitive music. The few embellishments which 
occur in Nos. i (i), i (2), 2, 29, 32, are quite slight and simple. 
They present a contrast in this respect when compared with 
Nos. 50 and 23, which are records of other than Vedda music 
from Ceylon. I am indebted to Mr R. R. Broome, B.A., of 
Christ's College, Cambridge, for their notation. 

No. 50. Charm (reputed to be Arabic) sung by the Arachi of Girandura. 
Time very irregular. 









■! \ ^^ 

No. 23. Sinhalese Love Song. 




Another feature is the precision with which the notes are 
hit. There is not a single example of that glissando from note 
to note, which is so frequently met with among certain primitive 

In only one song does more than one singer take part, and 
in this, No. ^^y , the second singer merely repeats the melody of 
the first when the latter has finished. There is hence no instance 
of two or more simultaneously sung notes. 

But perhaps the most striking characteristic of Vedda music 
is the apparent feeling for tonality. In every song a tonic note 
is clearly present, which is, so to speak, the centre of gravity of 
the melody, emphasised by accent, duration, or frequency — a 
note to which the melody seeks to return. 

In the majority of songs of Groups A and B the melody 
starts from the highest tone and proceeds (directly or by an 
intermediate tone) to the tonic, which is consequently the lowest 
tone. This description essentially holds, (i) for all the songs in 
Group A, excepting the opening phrase of No. 38, which is 
distinct from the rest ; (ii) for the twelve songs of Group B, 
excepting Nos. 36 (2) and n, where the tune ascends from the 
tone below the highest before descending, and Nos. 14 (2) and 
39 which ascend direct from the lowest (tonic) to the highest ; 
and (iii)— but for the introduction of a leading note— for four of 
the songs in Group C. 

The close similarity between the various songs of Group A 
is so obvious that no further comment is necessary to establish it. 

It is not difficult to trace the development of many of the 
songs of Group B from those of Group A. For example : 

No. II (2). 

No. 42. 




From the last song, No. 31 A, there is an easy transition to 
certain other songs of the same group, e.g. to 

No. 31. No. 34 (2). 






We can also indicate the relation between No. 42 of Group A 
and five other songs of Group B. 

No. 42. 


-3 — 



No. 37. 






No. 2. 

No. 39. 


p=g%^£g^^ #^^a'^rg' i^ 

No. 27. 


Again, No. 19 of Group A 



^^ FT^=f=r= ^^^g^^^- 


by a change comparable to that occurring in the opening phrases 
of No. 38 easily becomes 


and this passes easily into No. 39 of group B : — 



The introduction of a fourtli nolo into the melody is scon in 
its most elementary form in the case of song No. 44'. Here, a 
division into two phrases. A (m(xli(k\l at A') and 1\ is cle.ul\- 
possible. Of these B consists of three nt>tes, and has the i^eneral 
characters of the sonj^s of Group H, while A contains the tonic, 
the lowest tone of the phrase H, preceded b\' the tone below the 
tonic, that is to say, by the leadiiii^-note. The use of the 
leading-note is clearl)' foreshadowed in the opening phrase o\' 
Song No. 38 in Group .\. hour tUher songs in Group C. 
Nos. 28, 34 ( I ). 51 and 5 (j), have a tlel'mite leading-note. In 
Nos. 28, 34 (1) and 51, the leading-note is followed immediately 
b)- the higliest note, whence a descent is matle to the tetnic as in 
the songs of Group R. Hence four o\ the songs in tircmii C" 
only differ in structure from tlu\sc of Group H by the addition of 
ii leading-note. 

No. 53 (i) is exceptional in that it starts from the tonic and 
ascends by intermediate tones to the highest, whence a gradual 
descent is made to the tonic. It is a Sinhalese song. 

No. 26 (1) should perhaps be classed in Group B, — of so little 
importance is the highest or fourth note introduced. Apart from 
its opening phrase, it may be com|)aretl witii Nos. ■1,6 (2) and 37 
of that group, both ol' which ascend from the note below the 
highest, before descending to the tonic. 

Only one other song of Group (.' remains uimientioned. .And 
this, No. 2)}>^ is extremely like No. 36 (2) of C^iroup Iv not on\y 
in structure but in the curious rhythm. An unim[)ortant semi- 
tone is introiluced beneath the tome. 

No. 36(2). 

fep^^^^Fi g'f^^r? ?^ 

There are so few tones in these songs that we can hardly 
expect to meet with a strict ilivisicm of the melody into phrases. 

' See tn-iuscript, p. ,^50. 

MUSIC 363 

Yet in songs Nos. 26 (1), 38, and 44 there are opening phrases 
distinct from the body of the song. And in No. 44 this opening 
phrase (marked A in the transcript) is repeated in its original 
(or, as at A', in a modified) form during tlie song. The melody 
is thus very easily divisible into a series of alternating phrases, 
attaining a higher stage of development in this respect than any 
other of the melodies under investigation. Nos. 26(1) and 41 
(both of which Dr Seligmann suspects to be of modern date) 
have a short terminal phrase, clearly separable and differing in 
character from the remainder of the song. 

Conclusions and Comtarison-s. 

In the Vedda music we seem to meet with the very 
beginnings of melody-building. At the lowest stage (Group A) 
we have a two-note song descending from the higher to the 
lower tone. Then (in Group B) a third note is added higher in 
pitch than either of the preceding. Lastly (in Group C) a fourth 
note is introduced, generally a tone below the tonic, the influence 
of which throughout most of the songs is very clearly felt. 

There is no other people in whose music the gradual con- 
struction of melody on these simple lines can be discerned. If 
we turn to Australian music', we usually meet, it is true, with 
small intervals between successive tones, but the range of tones 
throughout any one song is considerable. Among the American 
Indians it is also rare to find a song consisting only of two notes. 
Only four of the forty-three American Indian melodies collected 
by Abraham and v. Hornbostel^ consist of two notes, and in 
three of these the interval is a neutral or minor third. Similar 
results are yielded by the older collections of Haker' and 
Stumpf ^ The music of the natives of New Guinea, Borneo and 
Africa is decidedly more complex than that of the Veddas. 

Turning to the music of Southern India, we find that only 
two or three of thirteen phonographic records, obtained from 

' Karl Hagen, Ueber d. Musik einiger Naturvblker, Hamburg, 1892. . 
'^ Phonographirte Indianer Melodieen aus British Columbia, in the Boas Memorial 
Volume, New York, 1906, pp. 447 — 474. 

' Ueber d. Musik d. nordimerik. Wilden, Leipzig, 1882. 
* Vierteljahrs. d. Musikwiss., 1886, S. 405 — 426. 


natives of Gujar, Malabar and Tanjore\ at all resemble in 
simplicity the Vedda music. Five of them have a range of tones 
compassing an octave, while three others range over a sixth. Of 
the three most primitive songs one is a prayer, the other two 
being children's songs. It cannot be said that in general 
character they very closely resemble the Vedda songs. 

The intervals among the Veddas appear to have been 
developed by the successive addition of small intervals to those 
previously used. There are only two or three exceptional cases 
[Nos. 20, 34 (2), 53 (i)] in which the added intervals are approxi- 
mately equal to the original ; and these instances are po.ssibly 
accidental. In nearly all the remaining songs of Group B, the 
additional third tone consists of approximately a semitone added 
above the whole-tone interval which starts from the tonic. The 
two intervals thus comprise a minor third. This minor third 
tends to be smaller than our own tempered or untempered 
interval. A major third occurs only in a single song, and a 
neutral third is also only once sung. In Group C, the fourth, 
when sung, is in most cases approximately true, although in one 
song it is smaller, in another decidedly larger, than our own 
tempered or untempered interval. A fifth occurs but in one 
song and is distinctly smaller than ours. 

We can only conclude from these data that in the absence of 
musical instruments, musical intervals are by no means fixed 
among the Veddas, and that this want of fixity becomes more 
striking, the greater the number of notes introduced into the 
song. In dealing with the songs of Group A, we were able to 
range without difficulty the intervals under three heads. But 
with the songs of Groups B and C such classification became 
increasingly difficult and more uncertain. 

From what we know of primitive music elsewhere, it was not 
to be expected that the Veddas would sing pure minor or major 
thirds. For a long time, even in European music, thirds were 
regarded as dissonant. What does, however, seem unusual, is 
that the fifth, in the one Vedda song in which it occurs, bears so 
little resemblance to the consonant interval which has the ratio 
2:3. It is almost a quarter-tone flat. On the other hand, the 
Sammelb. d. internal. MusikgeseUsch. 1904, Bd v, S. 348 — 401. 

MUSIC 365 

fourth is several times sung nearly in the consonant ratio of 
3 : 4. Inasmuch as the fifth is so much more consonant than the 
fourth, we should have expected to have found its intonation 
purer than the fourth. 

For the same reason we might have expected to have found 
the fifth preferred to the fourth, but the fifth only occurs in one 
song, while the fourth is sung in several. But the intervals 
of the Veddas appear to have been developed, as we have 
already said, not by taking a harmonious interval and dividing 
it into smaller intervals, but by starting with small (and un- 
certain) intervals and adding further intervals to them. It is only 
in the more advanced songs (and these are very few in number) 
that relatively large intervals are sung. And here we appear 
first to meet with the influence of harmony in fixing the size of 
such consonant intervals. Despite the fact that to our ears 
tonality is so well-marked throughout the Vedda songs, the 
approximate consonance of intervals is only reached when the 
two tones immediately succeed one another. 

As regards the rhythm of the Vedda songs, it is noteworthy 
that in Indian music Abraham and von Hornbostel found 
frequent instances of the interpolation of a 3- or a 5-pulse 
measure in music otherwise of common time. They note that 
change of rhythm is " so frequent that we are often unable to 
detect any constant primary rhythm at all, but are compelled to 
imagine a continual modification of measured" This remark is 
applicable, as we have seen, to much of Vedda music, while in 
other Indian and Vedda songs a definite rhythm can be readily 
apprehended. In m.any parts of the world primitive music is 
characterised by "a delight in change and opposition of rhythm, 
and a demand that relatively long periods filled with measures 
of diverse length be apprehended as an organic whole or 
'phrase'"." This is a characteristic of several of the Vedda 


^ Op. cit. S. 398. 

- C. S. Myers, Brit.Joiirn. of Psychol. 1905, Vol. i, p. 405. 



In this chapter we give a number of Vedda songs for the 
transHteration and translation of which we are indebted to 
Mr Gunasekara. 

It will be noted that a number of the songs are variants 
on a common theme ; with the exception of No. IV (song 
asking for presents), the lullabies and the song sung while 
plucking jak fruit, all were sung for the enjoyment they caused 
or the amusement they produced — that is to say we could not 
discover that there were occasions on which any of these songs 
were sung specially and exclusively. Even the sad little song 
(No. VII) commemorating the suicide of two women \ though 
it did not cause amusement, was by no means avoided and 
seemed to give a good deal of quiet satisfaction. The song 
sung by women to their husbands who returned empty handed 
from seeking honey, though doubtless sung on appropriate 
occasions, was also sung at other times and was considered 
rather a joke. 

A number of the best known songs begin or end with a 
variant of the untranslatable lines 

Tan tandindnan taiidmdne 
Td77an tajidina tatidindne'^. 

^ The legend has been given on pp. 322 and 323. 

- Mr Gunasekara by shghtly altering these lines would obtain 

Tan tan dinane tan tan dinane 
Tdnan tan dina tan dinane 
which he would translate 

May each be victorious! May each be victorious! 

May he defeat those who are inimical to him ! May he be victorious ! 

SONGS 367 

Other songs begin with a variant of 

Mantini nidmi?u ?iiadeyiyd 
which may be translated 

Oh great man ! Oh great man ! Oh great god ! 
or perhaps as Bailey writes 

My departed one, niy departed one, my god ! 

The following lullaby was sung at Banderaduwa by a woman 
called Hudumeniki to the air (No. 19) given on page 345. 

1. Rd-ro-ro 

A mint mokatada diidanne 

Amtnt gosiga teliitai 

Ekat niiidaina dlpawu dennd 

Ammi mokatada andaime 

AiJimi goiiala bokkatayi diidanne 

Ekat nindaina dewu de?tiid 

Ainnii mokatada diidaitne 

Ammi waildurdge ihatayi 

Ekat nindaina dewu dennd 

Ammi mokatada dndaniie 

Ammi rosdge ihatayi 

Ekat nindama dewu dennd 


Ammi kalawcelta pcetuni 

Nindotayi diidanne 

Nidigannd p^tfini 

Nindotayi diidanne 


Ammd ro-ro-ro 

Ainmd inokata diidanne 

Ammd disi ndndayi diidanne 

Ammi mokatayi diidanne 

Ammi nidi nidundayi 

Ro-ro-ro ammd. 

Ro-ro-ro Child, why are you crying ? Child, is it for the fat of the monitor 
lizard ? Give the whole of it (i.e. the fat). Child, why are you crying? Child, 
is it for thegona/a yams you are crying ? Give all of them (i.e. the yams). Child, 
why are you crying? Child, is it for the head of the wandura monkey? 
Give the whole of it (i.e. the head). Child, why are you crying? Child, is 
it for the head of the rilawd monkey ? Give the whole of it (i.e. the head)- 


Child, creeping child ; are you crying for sleep ? Sleeping child, are you 
crying for sleep ? Ro-ro-ro Darling, Ro-ro-ro 

Darling, for what are you crying? Darling, is it for bathing you are 
crying? Child, what are you crying for? Child, is it for sleep? Darling, 

The next lullaby was sung by Tandi of Sitala Wanniya ; 
we do not know whether this is the lullaby the music of which 
is given on page 347 (No. 34 (2)) or on page 350 (No. 34 (i)). 

II. Ammila pcetuna 

Anuiii moka/ada antfannen 
A)iinii nyila bokkatayi 
Ekat ftindatna dewdefina 
A mini moka/ada andanncn 
Ammt kattcwala bokkatayi 
Ekat nindania dewdennd 
Amini mokatada andennen 
Ai/nni gosika telliyatayi 
Ekat nindatna dewdemia. 

Lovely babe, what do you cry for, child ? Child, it is for the uytla yam. 
I will give the whole of it. Child, what do you cry for? Child, it is for 
katuwala yam. I will give the whole of it. Child, what do you cry for? 
Child, it is for the fat of the monitor lizard. I will give the whole of it. 

These lullabies though longer than those collected by Nevill 
closely resemble the latter, although they do not appear to 
contain the jokes and intentional absurdities which Nevill con- 
sidered to exist in those he recorded^ 

The next song though not a lullaby was said to have been 
sung by a mother to her young children who were frightened 
at the oncoming of a thunder storm. It was taken down at 

III. ^Emiiiman cEvimlnan 

Sat milduru kaiidfyeta ptten 
Sihndn silpaivano'li widinnegi neiveyit neweyi 
Bdldpawu detuio nam bald paw denno 
Ayiyinan ayiylnan disi mudiiru ndgdla 
Balapd ge?ta ena rdga narakayt 

^ Taprobanian , Vol. II, p. 122. We are by no means convinced that Nevill was 
right in seeing jokes and absurdities in these lullabies. He himself notes [loc. cit.) 
" that the people themselves do not altogether understand many words in these...." 

SONGS 369 

Maya cEga bawiri karanneyi 

Rajaiualo galgdinata nuwannu dennd nam 

Kodo kodoyi mayi rdjo luannila dennd 

Moba anoivayi haka noiuayi ihddpaivu dennd nam 

Ran rdjo slmdlc yakkila kokkild sttino 

R(Eta rdjje siiinnanni neweyit neweyi 

Uda ceiidiri wcEtio;e)ia bin crndiri wcetigena 

Enagala malagala gala kon wcetennd newet neiveyi 

Rajawdle galgdmata numanni dennd. 

Darling ! Darling ! There you see the wind and rain are coming down 
from outside the Seven Seas. See the two. See brother, thunder and 
lightning coming from the direction of the sea. Things are getting bad. 
My body is losing strength (through fear). Let us two go to the Rajawalo 
cave (or cave place). Ho ! ho ! my two princes, it is not possible to go 
there, stay. Oh lovely princes ! in the forest are yaku and gods. Are we 
not staying in the palace at night ! The sky is getting dark, the earth is 
getting dark. Are not kon fruits falling at Enagala and Malagala ! Let us 
go to the Rajawalo cave. 

The following "song asking for presents" was sung by a 
woman of Bandaraduwa to the air (No. 20) given on page 347. 
Although addressed to the Hiidu Naena (white cousin, i.e. white 
woman) it was not an extemporary composition but was said to 
have been known to the singer's parents. 

IV. Htidu ncent kdndt kolo, mil kolo^ rati bddo, higanidro wigena yan- 

nawu yannaivu. 
Sndumo n'ceni tcegi bogi dilaniu, api duwaganan yamto 
Siidumo ncent elamoran ndiigdto elagini rangini wcpdiwi gena en- 

Api diiwagena yando tagi bogi dllavju dilawu. 

White cousin {na-ni), (I am) running short of betel leaves^ and areca 
nut. White cousin, give (us) presents so that we may run away. White 
cousin, the young (or white) younger sister of Mordne is getting hungry. 
Give us, give us, presents that we may run away. 

The next two songs, both collected at Nilgala, were particu- 
larly popular ; the first reflects the very high estimate in which 
a Vedda holds his wife. 

V. Kcehden kcemen pana noyeyi 
Kcciidefi kcrmen pana noyeyi 
Hiten hulagen pana noyeyi 
Hiten hnlageti pana noyeyi 

^ In the original kandl kolo z.wA n7/l M/o both mean betel leaves. 

S. V. 24 


WcECcen pinnen pana noyeyi 
WcBCcen piime?i paiia noyeyi 
Kudi peta ncettan pana yatineyi 
Kudi peta nccttdn pana yanneyi. 

For (want) of gruel or food, the life will not depart (i.e. man will not die) ; 
owing to cold or wind, the life will not depart ; owing to rain or dew, the life 
will not depart. If there be no wife, the life will depart. 

VI. Tanan tanden fanCxne 

Matt sonda baduwak daka gatti>n 

Man sonda baduwak daka gattini 

Mokada inokada tola kiri n'ane 

Mokada mokada tola kiri li^ne 

Ehema klycna hadmuak noiueyi viadcrka gatte tola nam 

Ara palle taldwc tibunu 

Dumkudikkiya bola dak gattim. 

Tanan tanden tandne. 

I have seen a fine thing and taken it. What is it, what is it, oh good 
lianat Nana, the thing which I saw and picked up is not one that I will 
mention readily. You 7Jcena, what I saw and picked up is the smoking pipe 
which was on that distant high ground (lit. back high-ground). 

The Sinhalese do not smoke pipes, and the Veddas do not 
smoke at all ; on questioning our informants we were told that 
this song was only two or three generations old and referred to 
the finding of a pipe dropped by a white sportsman. 

The next song recorded at Bandaraduwa alludes to the 
suicide of two Vedda women and has been referred to already 
on pages 322 and 323. Only the first part of the song, con- 
taining no direct reference to the final tragedy, was taken down. 

VII. Akkiiiani akkinain yando ludretian 
Api deiDidge wannilu endomo 7iati 
Bdlanda yandowa ware naiiga 

Nahgd nan nangd api detindge wannlld 

Dinvagena ennan bdldndo wdrd naiiga fmn nailgd 

Akki nam akki nam mata bdsuru bari najn bari nam 

Naiiga nam naiigd fiam ware nam ware nam 

Api denndge wannild wellikandiycn duwagen ennan 

Bdldndu wdren. 

Elder sister, elder sister, come to go. Our husbands have not returned ; 
come younger sister, let us go to look for them. Younger sister, younger 
sister, the husbands of us two are coming running. Younger sister, younger 

SONGS 371 

sister, come to look. Elder sister, elder sister, I am afraid, I cannot, I can- 
not. Younger sister, younger sister, come, come. The husbands of us two 
are coming running from Wellikandiya. Come and see. 

The next song, collected at Sitala Wanniya, records a fatal 
accident while honey-gathering ; a woman speaks to her sister, 
so that "elder brother" in the third line should be "elder sister" ; 
" younger brother " is a common periphrasis for husband. 
Tantirivelo is the name of a rock-face and the " golden jewelled 
cord " is the liatie ladder by which the honey-seekers reach the 
comb (cf Chapter X, invocation No. XXVI). 

VIII. Tantirivelo baliyato bapu 

Ran mini kendo gallan ki}iiki 
Bada dennaw fnayc kirin ayiye 
Apild dennaye mallila dennata 
Adissi amariikainak ceii mayc kiri akke. 

(At) Tantirivelo the skilfully (or forcibly) lowered 

Golden jewelled cord which is sunk from the rock 

Gives an unlucky sign, my dear elder brother. 

For the younger brothers of us two 

There will be a sudden difficulty, my dear elder sister^. 

The following song, also from Sitala Wanniya, was sung by 
women to their husbands when the latter returned from honey- 
seeking without honey. The air to which it was sung is given 
on page 344 (No. 21). 

IX. Disi jnawili rankenda elald eldla 

Kalu rcete nanglld dunkawufen panndld 

Ran kaduwen kapdld ela tnoratt ndgdtoyi 

Memitllin ihale kodoyi kiyald 

Duwagena dwo wennild-gollo 

Ela vioran nangdtd ela gini wcediwegina enno. 

(They) let down, let down the great mawila creeper jungle rope, (they) 
drive away the bees with smoke ; (the comb) was cut with the golden sword 
for the young sisters of Morane. (Our) husbands came running and saying, 
"Above this corner there is none." The young sisters of Morane are getting 

^ Mr Parker, to whom we are indebted for the translation of this song, notes that 
'■'■gallan stands for galen; /f;z;«'>&j appears to be derived from kindenaiva to be sunk, 
and to be the equivalent of khidicci. 

24 — 2 


The next song, transliterated and translated by Mr Parker, 
was collected at Sitala Wanniya where it was known only to the 
older men of the community. It was sung only when gettingy^>^ 
fruit, and though these Veddas knew the ordinary Sinhalese 
word for this fruit they told me it would not be used. They 
explained that there was only one place in their territory where 
there were two or three jak trees (doubtless the remains of old 
gardens made by Buddhist monks or recluses), that they valued 
their fruit very highly, and that they would not commonly speak 
of them by name and certainly would not do so when about to 
gather the fruit. In this song bo tree and moran flower are 
both honorific terms. This suggests that the song has magic 
power, so that its most appropriate position in this volume would 
be in Chapter vili. 

X. Ms ydmen ydmeta mS Cisata wcsduna 

Me Bopata riiwala yan ke7ieku7tta bccha di^iawanna 

Me tnoran tnalc misak atiiyen bceri nan kekkiyen bindala 

Mast polawata bassald deniiayi. 

Here, from watch to watch, this (tree) touched the sky. 

No one can cause this Bo-leaf sail to be overcome. 

Having broken off with the hook this ripening flower only, if unable (to 

pluck it) by the hand. 
Having lowered it to the earth, I will give it. 

Moran appears to be moraiia. 

Male may be a poetical allusion to the fruit. 

Mast polawata for inahi polawata, a pleonastic form, " to the 
earth's earth," that is, to the ground. Such pleonasms are not 
uncommon in colloquial village Sinhalese, as for instance, cdd 
daivasa, " that day's day," for " that day." 

The next two songs were collected at Nilgala; our in- 
formants attached no meaning to the first line. 

XI. Md mini tnd mini md deyiyd 
Kdkurukadde kdbeyiyd 
Kudurun kiidiirun kiyannd 
Kokkd gdleta wcei ivceld 
Mdde gdleta ivcei wald 
Made gdleta wcei iv^ld 
Tala pitata ivcei wald 
Kotati damana bora waturdyi 

SONGS 373 

Kaden paccela yak gamato 
Blmen yannata bol pini barimcByi 
Miwaplten yamu dennd 
Ane ape 'wa?in!la 
KobbTk wcele ncrglla 
Ekat bindageiia wcetila 
KcElina wcele iicpgild 
Ekat bifidagena ivcetila 
Walkobba ivcela dunna namdgena 
Wewcel icage pitata damdgena 
Bfdat payiyat ina ganndgen 
Poro pceccdt ina ganndgena 
Kunu go tadiyd karat a daindgena 
Kadiyd ballat iccara karagena 
Endcelu potu ban dena nayide 
EndcElu potu ban dena nayide. 

Md mini md mini ma deyiyd. 

The dove of the Kakuru Mountain is singing kudurun, kudurun. There 
was rain at Kokkagala. There was rain at Madegala. There was rain 
at Madegala. There was rain on the high land. There is muddy water 
bringing down logs. (There has been) a yaka ceremony below the rock. 
(I) cannot go on the ground as there is dew. Let us ride on the back of 
the buffalo. Ane ! our husbands having climbed up the kobba creeper, on 
its breaking having fallen ; having climbed the kcelina creeper, on its 
breaking, too, having fallen ; bending the bow (made) of wal-kobbcc'^ creeper, 
putting the canes at the back of the head 2, taking the betel bag at the waist, 
taking the axe at the waist, putting the dirty monitor lizard on the shoulder, 
sending in front the dog Kadiya, (You are) to come, they say (or he says 
or we say) Potubanda Nayide, (you are) to come, they say (or he says, or we 
say) Potubanda Nayide. 

XII. Md mini md iiiini md deyiyd 
Md mini md mini md deyiyd 
Ane dps wafinild 
Kokkd gdle yanni dennd 
Mdde gdle yanni dennd 
Kokkd gdle bceri baburii 
Made gale bceri baburu 
Kdkurii Kande Kobeyiyd 
Kdkurii Kande Kobeyiyd 
Kuturun kuturun klyannd 

' Allophyhis cobbe. 

- Or "carrying them hanging round the neck." 


Kuturuti kuturun kiyannd 

Tald pitata uucsyi wald 

Kotan dduiana bora waturayi 

Kotan dd)nana bora waturayi 

Kdden paccalayak gamato 

Blmen yanneta bol pini b(xrima;yinni 

Madayd piteti yanni dennd 

Kaliya wcela ncegild 

Ekat bi)~idagena wcetild 

Kobbce wcele ncegild 

Ekat bindagena wcettld 

Wcel-kobba; wcela dutma datndgena 

Wewcel icage pitata datndgena 

Kadiyd ballat iccarakaragena 

Endcelii potubanna nayide 

Endcelu potubanna nayide 

Md mini md mini md deyiyd 

Md mini md mini md deyiyd. 

Ah, our husbands ! Let us go to Kokkagala. Let us go to Madegala. 
(I) cannot go to Kokkagala. I cannot go to Madegala. The dove of the 
Kakuru-kanda is uttering kuturun, kuturun. There has been rain in the 
high land. There has been muddy water bringing down logs. There has 
been Tiyaka ceremony {y\K. yaka house) below the hill. (I) cannot go on the 
ground as there is dew. Let us ride on the buffalo. Having climbed up 
the kaliya creeper, on its breaking having fallen ; having climbed up the 
kobbce creeper, on its breaking too, having fallen ; putting down the bow 
(made) of wcel-kobbce creeper, putting the canes at the back of the head*; 
sending in front the dog Kadiya, (you are) to come, they say (or he says or 
we say) Potubanda Nayide. (You are) to come, they say (or he says or we 
say) Potubanda Nayide. Md mini tnd mini md deyiyd, Md mini md mini 
md deyiyd. 

All the remaining songs except the last were collected from 
the village Veddas of the Uva Bintenne ; all are of one type 
and with a single exception (No. XVII) all are related to each 
other and to the two songs immediately preceding them which 
we obtained at Nilgala. No. XVII, the exception just referred 
to, is extremely Sinhalese in tone and thought. The gomara 
spots referred to are the light patches on the body, due to the 
attacks of a parasitic fungus, which are much admired by the 
peasant Sinhalese of Uva and the Eastern Province. 

^ Or "carrying them hanging round the neck." 

SONGS. 375 

XIII. Kceliya wcple luegild 

Rcetata paldge?ta wcetild 
Tunatiya potlat biiidild 
To ya kella genim 7uat 
NcBudage pcedurata mangaccala 

Tdnanne bala tdnanne 
Mtindi kaiidHpita watirild 
Okata widaparu kiri luend 
Iccata widapi icca are 
Tombata hefteti numdpi 
E madi widapi incere 
Depita maten 7uilga 
Peruma mardpin natid 
Puccd kdlayi diya bonne 
Eliya pan ivt cnnaw mend 
Cappi cili bili kiyannan 
Yannata natiya n'^nd 
Wcelkoggdye cappige gote 
Cappige bittara dekama dekayi 
Puccd kdld diya bonne iicend 

Tan taditia tan tadindne 
Moniiya niotniyi momiya 
Kottekata kana me kotd kdlayi diya bonne. 

Having climbed up the kaliya creeper, 

Splitting it in two and having fallen. 

Having broken (his ?) hip and stick, 

Having even brought thy girl. 

Having gone to thy mother-in-law's mat [i.e. hut). 

Tdnanne bala tdnanne. 

The monitor lizard is sprawling on the log. 

Shoot it dear cousin, 

Shoot at the head. You will miss the head ; 

Incline (the arrow) towards the tail, by the ribs. 

Shoot (it) in the middle ; it will die. 

Kill the buffalo, cousin, 

Which has smeared (itself) at the pool with mud on both sides. 

Having roasted and eaten (part of it) we drink water- 

The light is coming, cousin. 

The birds say silibili. 

Must we not go, cousin ? 

In the bird's nest on the Wal-kon tree 

There are two and two bird's eggs. 

Having roasted and eaten (them) we drink water, cousin. 

Tan tadina tan tadindne. 

To eat a part, having cut this and eaten (it), we drink water. 


Dekama dekayi Sin. deka dekayi^ two and two, or two by two. 
The last line appears to refer to the buffalo that was killed. 

XIV. Heian tandina tan tahdinane 
He kcrliya wcclc nccglla 
Hekcii bimata wcrtild 
He Kokkagalata man danm 
Etten ipita man fiodaniu 
Etten ipitat man datiin 
Mddc-galata man nodanin 
Etten ipitat man da?iin 
Utkirigalata man danin 
Etten ipita ma nodanin 
Etten ipitat man danin 
He mandcgalata man danin 
Etten ipitat man nodanitt 
Wadand tnlmd lanit bceiidald 
Wadand pi tin yannat bcerinan 
Cewanen cewanata yamu dennd 
Tewanett tewanata yannat barinan 
Siten sulangi7i yamn dennd. 

Hetan tandina tan tandindne. 

Having climbed the kaeliyawcela creeper, and having fallen to the ground 
from it, I know the way to Kokkagala. I know the way beyond that also. 
I do not know the way to Madegala. I know the way beyond that also. 
I know the way to Utkirigala. I do not know the way beyond that. I know 
the way beyond that also. I know the way to that Madegala. I do not 
know the way beyond that also. Put the ropes on the hunting buffalo, \i 
we cannot go on the back of the hunting buffalo let us go from shelter to 
shelter. If we cannot go from shelter to shelter, let us go (exposing our- 
selves) to cold and wind. 

XV. Tan tandindnan taildindne 
Tdndan tandini tandindne 
Diyata handan iida nccmmo 
Dlyata hafidayi uda ncemmo 

Cdppi cili bili kiyanne 

Cdppi cili bili kiyanno 

Ran knru m/lfjak penennd 

Ran kurii milnak petieiuid 

He man kavuda kiydld 

He man kavuda kiydld 

Etakota ape ara kiri nana 

Etakota ape ara kiri 7tce7id. 


SONGS 377 

Tan landindnan taiidinanc 

Tdndan tartdmi fandtndne 

Dlyata handa7i iida ncetrwio 

Diyata handayi iida nammo 

The birds are twittering^ 

The birds are twittering. 

A golden bud face was visible 

A golden bud face was visible. 

I asked "Who is that?" 

I asked "Who is that?" 

Then (it was) that dear cousin of ours. 

Then (it was) that dear cousin of ours. 

XVI. Tan tadi?idne tandindne 
Tdndn tandina tandindne 
Kapurie-kande kebeyi 
Kapuru-kandS kebeyi 
Kojaron kojaron kiyanne 
Kojaron koja7-o7i kiyanne 
Kcewili pojja kodo kdta 
Kawili pojja kodoyi kdta 
^ta pojjdioat kcpwillaw 
jEta pojjdivat kaivillaiv. 

Tan tadindne tandindne 
Tdndn tandina tandindne 

A dove of the Kapitru-kaiide (lit. camphor mountain) is crying kojaron, 
kojaron. No one has cakes. Eat some grain. 

The last three songs are evidently variants of a common 
theme, or perhaps of a number of common themes, for they 
suggest that they consist of a number of fragments strung 
together with little regard for their meaning. They were 
certainly sung for the pleasure they afforded, and perhaps the 
incongruity of the subjects alluded to and the abrupt way in 
which they are introduced amuses the audience. Nevill col- 
lected variants of fragments of these songs in the Bintenne 
which he definitely regards as comic. 

The following is the first of these fragments : 

Kukuru gdya dwwa naegild 
Ekat bindi gana ivaetild 

^ Literally "the birds are uttering silibili" the last word being onomatopoeic. 
Mr Parker, to M'hom \^ e are indebted for the translation of this song, is uncertain of 
the meaning of the third and fourth lines ; perhaps they might be translated "There 
was a noise of water ; we made obeisance." 


DaHen mdden erila 

Mdmini mdniini md ind mdyi. 

Having run and climbed up the kukiiru tree 
That breaking having fallen, 
Having stuck in the mud up to the knee, 
Mdmini mdmini md md mdyi. 

Nevill regards this as a " take off of the hymns sung by the 
celebrant when inspired in the worship of Kiri Amma, a Vedda 
form of Venus, Pattini, Parvati, or Amman," and he states that 
the " refrain is that actually used in her honour." Further " the 
kiikiiru tree is a prickly bush, up which no one could think of 
climbing, and the utter nonsense is a ridiculous parody on the 

The following is given as comic by the same authority, who 
draws attention to " both pata pata and danni pamii" being 
expressions coined from the sound of a heavy body falling 
whop, whop, or flop, flop, and pulling itself up slowly and with 

Kukuru kande naegild 
Pata pata gd gana luaetild 
l)a7ini panni gdla naegitala 
Tan nan tadi tadi td nd nd. 

XVII. Ayyo nanage date walalu gigiri dena nada datdeyi kiri nana 
Ncenage bahdata icunu gomara petiiuan gomara icila 
Nanage bandata icunu gomara mayo bandet iciyo 
Ncenata bceiidapu pcEnimtila ayiyo pot pceni kada weetenna 
Ncenata wiyapu pcedura ayiyo kelin rata wcetiga 
Kadiranwalle bcefidi u/iyane nangiyat wiyan damanni 
yEtul wiyan damanni bala cetul wiyan tio danna nana 
Pitet wiyan damanni ele wina panan wina ennaw nana 
Cappi cili bili kiyanni yajtJiata nidikimidiya nana 
Oye kelala wacco awidin nandage padurata wiruwdld. 

Good wife ! Oh what a noise the jingling bells of the bracelet on the 
two hands of yours (lit. of wife) are making ! There are (lit. spread) _^fw<zra 
spots Ton my body) resembling the gomara spots on (lit. spread on) my 
wife's waist. The gomara spots which are (lit. spread) on (myj wife's waist 
(are) spread on my waist also. Oh ! the thickened honey of the honey 
packet made up (lit. tied up) for (my) wife is dripping. Oh \ the coloured 
stripes of the mat woven for (my) wife are gone straight. A canopy is tied 
to Kadiranwalla. The younger sister is also putting up canopies. She is 

SONGS 379 

putting up inner canopies. Oh wife ! do not put up inner canopies. She 
is putting up outer canopies. Wife, bring white canopies and leaf canopies. 
The birds are chirping'. Wife, rise up from sleep to go. The calves (or 
oxen) having come after playing in the river went to (my) mother-in-law's^ 

The last song was collected at Unuwatura Bubula. 

XVIII. (i) Andd diya dtiwana mawili gangawe 
Sorabora wile wilpatulcn enawada 
Atat damd dcetaka ena nurdwd 
Sdhi pitmuala yak gammal 
Sdld pitaiuala 7V(chi ivcehcrld bora ivatiirayi 

(2) Bi?nifi yanna bccri nan 

Wadand ntitnafa lame bcendapati 
Ten tedind 

Arigara nietun nalanno 
Sellan bera pada gasdpan. 

(i) Oh Mawili river! whose water is flowing, making a sound! Are 
you coming from the bottom of the lake Soraborawila .-" Oh lover! who 
comes in two directions, having put (your) hand also (round her neck). 
There has been yaka ceremony at Salapitawala. It having rained, there 
is muddy water at Salapitawala. 

(2) If you cannot go walking (lit. on the ground) put the ropes on the 
hunting buffalo. 
Ten tedind 

They are dancing gesture dances-'. 
Play a tune on the drum (used) for games. 

This song very clearly shows the composite nature of some 
of the Vedda songs, especially those in use among the more 
sophisticated groups. The first two lines of the first verse and 
the last two lines of the second verse are obviously related to, 
if they are not derived from, the invocation sung at the Kolo- 
niaduwa ceremony (Chapter x, No. XXXIX), while the first 
two lines of the last refer to harnessing a buffalo as in 
the preceding songs, 

^ Lit. uttering silibili. 

2 YNicnda presumably for ncitda from iiendaniiiia ;i paternal aunt or maternal 
uncle's wife, hence mother-in-law, cf. pp. 64 and (i^.A, 

* We are indebted to Mr Parker for the following note. '' Angara uadun nataniw 
may be 'dancing gesture-dances' or 'dancer of gesture-dances.' Angaraya is stated 
by Clough to be 'gesture,' the particular gesture of the Malabar dancing girls." 



Mr Parker remarks of the Vedda language that it " is to a 
great extent the colloquial Sinhalese tongue, but it is slightly 
changed in form and accent. Yet closely as it resembles the 
latter, these differences and the manner in which it is pronounced 
render it quite an unknown language when it is spoken to one 
who has not a special acquaintance with it. Besides this, the 
Vaeddas use their own terms for the wild animals and some 
other things about which they often find it necessary to con- 
verse. Such words are usually a form of Sinhalese, or admit of 
Sinhalese or Tamil derivations ; but a very few may possibly 
belong to, or be a modification of words in, their own original 
language, forming with perhaps a few forms of grammatical 
expression the only remains of it that have been preserved, 
with the exception of some doubtful terms found in Sinhalese^" 
The view taken by M r Parker concerning the Sinhalese language, 
though not quite generally accepted, is that held by Geiger, who 
considers Sinhalese " a pure Aryan dialect," although it contains 
some words for which he " can find no Aryan origin " ; there are, 
however, " fewer non-Aryan loan words in Sinhalese than there 
are non-Germanic words in English'-." In this and the following 
chapter Geiger's view will be assumed to be correct and we shall 
deal with the so-called Vedda language, which is but a dialect of 

^ Ancient Ceylon, p. 123. 

2 The quotations from Geiger are taken from pp. 86, 87 and 88 of his Literatur 
iind Sprache der Sinhalese pubhshed in 1900 in Buhler's Griindriss der Indo-Arischen 


Sinhalese, as a foreign language which the Veddas long ago 
adopted in the place of their own. 

The obvious phonetic changes from the Sinhalese which we 
noted in the Vedda dialect were the substitution for the sibilant 
" s " of the palatal " ch " which though generally retained might 
be thrown out, thus " head " Sin. isa becomes in the Vedda 
dialect iya or sometimes icha, and gas the Sinhalese word for 
"tree" becomes gai or gayi in Vedda. There may be other 
phonetic changes which an expert linguist would detect, but 
certainly the substitution of "ch" for "s" is the change which 
gives its characteristic harsh quality to the Vedda dialect. 

A number of authors have published short lists of Vedda 
words, that given by the Sarasins being of most importance, for 
although it consists of only 22 words care is taken to indicate the 
equivalent in use in each of the Vedda groups visited by the au- 
thors. More complete vocabularies have been collected by Bailey 
and Nevill, and vocabularies have also been published by two 
native scholars. One of these, who wrote under the nom-de-plume 
A. J. W., Batticaloa, has published his material in a somewhat 
inaccessible periodical, the Ceylon Literary Register (Vo\. V, 1891). 
His information, which includes a number of sentences and 
lullabies, has evidently been carefully collected and would 
probably be specially useful to Sinhalese and Sanskrit scholars. 
Its great defect is that no mention is made of the places where 
the information was obtained, or the conditions prevailing when 
it was collected. 

Mr A. J. W. Marrambe's publication entitled The Vedda 
Language and apparently printed at Colombo in 1893 which 
contains some Vedda invocations is of less value, for while it 
suffers from the same defects it does not appear to have been 
prepared with the care which characterises the vocabulary in the 
Literary Register^. 

An important if indirect contribution to the study of the 
Vedda language has recently been made by Mr Parker, who, in 
Ancient Ceylon, gives in parallel columns Nevill's Vedda voca- 
bulary and the equivalents of these words in the Kaelebasa 

- The identity of initials suggests that the two accounts may be by one author. 



language, collected by himself during his long sojourn in Ceylon ; 
and to this we shall return later. 

The Vedda words for the most important animals with which 
they are brought in contact which are given in the vocabulary at 
the end of this volume indicate that nouns and verbs in the 
Vedda dialect are largely formed by periphrasis. It may be 
urged that in certain cases this is done for the same reason that 
the common names of animals are avoided in all hunting 
languages, and doubtless this explains why the bear is commonly 
spoken of as hatera " the enemy V' but it will not account for one 
of the words for "smoke" being "that which goes from the fire 
when wet," or "to bring" being "to come having taken things" 
or for " wind " being " that which causes the stems of trees to 
break." Mr Parker informs us that the expression " having 
taken, come," for "bring" is common in Sinhalese, while 
Dr L. D. Barnett, whom we have consulted on the subject 
of periphrases, writes that " compound actions " are often ex- 
pressed by paraphrase, thus the Hindi for "bring" is le dana, 
i.e. "taking give," and "depart" is nikal jana, i.e. "issuing go." 
These examples show that there is nothing peculiar or specially 
significant in the existence in the Vedda dialect of such peri- 
phrasis for " bring " as that given above. 

Such expressions might be survivals from a time when the 
Vedda vocabulary was limited, when quick precision was un- 
necessary or at least had not been attained, and when all ideas, 
except the simplest, were necessarily expressed in a roundabout 
fashion and generally helped out by gesture. We allude in 
Chapter XVI to the absolute impossibility of making even such 
an intelligent man as Harduna of Sitala VVanniya realise the 
difference between a number of periods of time all shorter than 
a day, and in the same chapter we point out that the older 
generation of unsophisticated Veddas count only by saying 

^ At Sitala Wanniya we were told that the v^oxAkaeriya might be used for "bear"' 
without danger when the animal was at a distance, but that hatera should be used if 
the animal were known or suspected to be close. Here too the word botakabala was 
used for elephant avowedly to prevent these animals hearing their name and coming 
near. Hatcia should be written hatttra, but as we never heard any Vedda pronounce 
this word otherwise than hatera, we use this spelling throughout. 


"one" and "one" and "one," so that the suggestion we 
make need not necessarily be taken to carry back the formation 
of the Vedda dialect to remote antiquity. 

Further the use of periphrases is common in Sinhalese and 
other languages closely related to Sanskrit, 

We are indebted to Dr Barnett (who tells us that the list 
could be greatly extended without difficulty) for the following 
examples of Sanskrit periphrases, many of which occur in 
Sinhalese in unmodified or only slightly modified forms : 

dvipi leopard, lit. " spotted." 

dvirepha bee, lit. "double R-sound." 

kutd'sana fire, lit. "devouring libations." 

Jiutavdhana fire, lit. " conveying libations." 

kari elephant, Ht. " animal with a hand." 

krishnaindrga fire, lit. "having a black path" (Sin. kiiiu- 

pddapa tree, lit. " drinking with the feet." 

parapusJita cuckoo, lit. " nurtured by a stranger " (Sin. 

pdrdvata dove, lit. " belonging to distant lands" i^^'xw. paravi). 

sdkJidniriga monkey or squirrel, lit. " branch-deer." 

shatpada bee, lit. " six-legged " (Sin. sapadd). 

Even at the present day the vocabulary of the peasant 
Sinhalese is not a large one, and if from this there were taken 
away all ceremonial and agricultural terms, and those directly or 
indirectly due to European influence, it would, we believe, be 
surprisingly small. It is reasonable to suppose that it was no 
bigger centuries ago. It is therefore not surprising that the 
dialect which was formed by the Veddas from this vocabular}^ 
and took the place of their old language, adopted only a small 
number of words suitable to their jungle life, and so prepared 
the way for the use of large numbers of periphrases even if it did 
not at first necessitate their formation ^" 

^ Perhaps the position of the Veddas linguistically at the time of the change ma}- 
be compared to the position of the inhabitants of certain Melanesian Islands of the 
Pacific, where not only has a degraded English with an extremely limited vocabulary 
become the medium of communication between White and Black and between 
diffcicnt native tribes, but the islanders in some instances when speaking to foreigners 


Although Dr Barnett considers that many of the Vedda 
periphrases seem to point primarily to a low level of culture, 
and although we believe that we should do wrong to ignore the 
influence of some such process as that which we have sketched, 
we think it probable that many of the expressions in the Vedda 
language (so called) arose as the result of a deliberate effort 
to mystify. 

At the time when the Veddas began to use Sinhalese as their 
habitual mode of communication they would find it convenient, 
if not absolutely necessary, to be able to discuss matters between 
themselves in the presence of Sinhalese, especially Sinhalese 
traders, without allowing the latter to understand what they 
were saying. This necessity would naturally lead them to invent 
periphrases and onomatopoeic words while it would encourage 
mispronunciation and the use of archaic forms. 

Further evidence in favour of this view may be gathered from 
other Indian tribes and even from the Veddas themselves. 
Dr Rivers found that the Todas have a secret language which 
" consists of a large number of expressions which they use in 
the presence of Badagas, Tamils and others, when they wish to 
be understood only by themselves. Many of the Badagas and 
Tamils with whom the Todas associate no doubt pick up some 
knowledge of their language, and even if this were not the 
case the Toda language is sufficiently like Tamil to enable a 
stranger to understand part of what is said. In consequence the 
Todas have adopted a secret code for use among themselves 
which they call kalikatpinii, literally ' stolen we tie,' while in 
distinction the ordinary language is called itherkclv or ' front 

Thus " cook food in milk " which in the ordinary language is 
pars ddr literally " milk cook " becomes in the secret language 

who have acquired some knowledge of their tongue purposely use simplified and in- 
complete grammatical forms. 

Mr Parker remarks that our statement concerning the vocabulary of the peasant 
Sinhalese is valid only so far as it applies to their ordinary conversation in which they 
use "a simple and limited" vocabulary, but that in working through his large collec- 
tion of Folk-tales he found that " the vocabulary of the villagers was a very extensive 

^ The Todas, p. 616. 


viGuk ndr pud iniidn tarsk idsJit literally "four sides come three 
on up put," i.e. " put what comes from the four teats upon the 
three (stones which support the cooking pot)." Further the leg 
may be called Dietepol " walk thing," also used for foot-prints, or 
pihui il/ar pi pol " thing that goes into the earth," while many 
other things have secret names; thus butter is called peltJipol 
" white thing ' and clarified butter kdrtpol " melted thing." 

All this seems to indicate that the so-called Vedda dialect 
arose, at least in part, as a deliberately invented secret language, 
and this view is supported by an anecdote told by Ne'vill which 
shows that even at the present time the formation of periphrases 
and the use of onomatopoeic words comes readily to the older 
Veddas, allowing them to communicate with their fellows in the 
presence of Sinhalese without using the ordinary words. 

An old Vedda who died before 1886 was "fond of encouraging 
the others to learn a patois which strangers could not understand, 
and used to illustrate its use by a story of his being overtaken 
by a party of pilgrims to Katragam, who insisted on his ac- 
companying them as guide some distance. A lad, partly a 
Vaedda, was with him. On the way they heard a deer give the 
peculiar bleating cry made when they are seized by a leopard. 
Seeing his companions did not understand it, he went on, and 
entering into conversation with the boy, sent him away, saying 
loudly and rapidly so as not to excite suspicion, Bus ki bas ki 
adina atak gena at baruwak gena pimbina atak gena, thopa 
ammat appat enda kiyapa. This means, " Bus was said, bas 
was said, bringing the bow, axe and fire-stick, tell your mother 
and father to come." Here the bow is called the "pulling-bough," 
the axe is called the " bough heavy " or " heavy in the hand," and 
the fire-stick, the " blowing bough," in allusion to the blowing of 
the spark into a flame. Bus imitates the snort of the leopard 
as it springs on the deer, and bas the cry of the deer. The old 
man delighted to tell this tale, showing his own wit, and would then 
say " and because the boy knew huntsman's craft and how to 
speak aloud but secretly, he slipped away and called his parents. 
I went back as soon as I could, and we all had a grand feast, for 
the leopard had not time to eat much before the boy's parents 
were there \" 

^ Taprobanian, Vol. I, p. rSi. 

s. V. 25 


At Sitala Wanniya we learnt for the first time that two 
classes of words could be distinguished in the Vedda dialect. 
Words of the first class are commonly employed by the Veddas 
among themselves or their use is compulsory when hunting or 
travelling in the jungle ; the second class contains words which 
are used only in invoking the yaku. 

The monitor lizard commonly called iniuida becomes in the 
yaka language bivibada ganeka, " one whose belly touches the 
ground " ; the pig dola is called hosedika ; the spotted deer 
geinberupodeya is called depatani inagala ; the sambar kankiina 
becomes gaura magala ; and the wandura monkey botakima is 
called 7ide kelina. 

These were the only animals which were given yaka names 
at Sitala Wanniya, but betel leaves, usually known as paengeri 
kola, coconut milk polikiri and rice depotuhi all used in offerings 
to \\\& yaku are spoken of on these occasions as nilikola, literally 
"dark leaves," ran kiri daluo "golden bud milk" and Jiudu 
hamba from sjidii samba, lit. "white rice," respectively^ 

Probably all the wilder Veddas at one time used special 
words when addressing the yaku, for even at Rerenkadi among 
the sophisticated Veddas of the chena settlement we heard of 
the former existence of a yaka vocabulary, while at Lindegala 
the few words of the Vedda dialect that were still remembered 
were said to have been used especially in yaku ceremonies-. 

At Sitala Wanniya we obtained the expressions yakade 
heremitiya, literally " iron walking staff," for boy, and hanukanna 
kilote, "box for lime" or " lime eating box," for girl. We were 
not able to satisfy ourselves as to the significance of these 
metaphors, which were said to be used only in yaku ceremonies. 
According to one account the expression refers to the genitals 
of the sexes, another explanation states that a boy is a strong 
support to his relatives, while a girl is as precious as a supply of 
chewing materials. 

The hypothesis that the Vedda language arose in part as 
a secret language explains how it is that at the present day the 

^ Samba is the name of a superior variety of rice. 

- Nilgala, Bendiyagalge and Bandaiaduwa were all visited before Sitala Wanniya 
where we discovered the existence of a yaka vocabulary, and no questions especiall)' 
bearing on this matter were asked at these places. 


Vedda dialect is best preserved among the Village Veddas of 

The people of Dambani and Bulugahaladena whose condition 
we have described in Chapter II and whom we have specially in 
mind as typical Veddas of the Bintenne are precisely in that stage 
of development in which a secret language would be most useful. 
They do not lead, and apparently have not for a considerable 
number of generations led the wandering life which until recently 
characterised the Veddas living further to the east, nor on the 
other hand do they even now show any tendency to be absorbed 
by the peasant Sinhalese of the province in which they live. 
They in fact constitute small autonomous communities enjoying 
considerable prestige in the eyes of their neighbours both on 
account of their ancestry and their reputed fierceness. Not only 
is their dialect directly useful to them in their trading with the 
neighbouring Sinhalese, but as we soon discovered their use of 
what their neighbours consider a language different from their 
own greatly enhances their prestige. 

They have thus had a motive for keeping up if not for en- 
larging their store of periphrases and metaphors which probably 
never existed among the wilder, less sophisticated Veddas, who 
only preserve the old names of certain animals or foods which 
are used in jyaku ceremonies or which have become part of their 
jungle language. 

From this point of view we may detect three stages in 
the evolution of the present Vedda dialect. In the first stage 
their original language is efiaced by an archaic form of the 
Sinhalese ; the formation from this of a large number of secret 
words constitutes the second stage, while the third stage is 
represented by the process of substitution of more or less modern 
and colloquial Sinhalese words for the majority of archaic words 
and forms, during which process many of the modern words 
underwent phonetic changes. 

The following sentences taken down from men of Buluga- 
haladena show the characteristics of the Vedda dialect as it 
survives among the Village Veddas of Bintenne. The notes 
given after each sentence have been supplied by Mr Gunasekara, 
the sentences themselves are written down in the form in which 



we gave them (in English) to our interpreter. We have no doubt 
that he translated them literally into Sinhalese, so that not only 
the building up of the sentences but also the repetitions and in- 
accuracies in the Vedda dialect are of interest. 

Come here quickly. 
Ham JiaJiikctc mangacapa. 
Hanikete is from the Sinhalese JiMiikata quickly. 
This axe belongs to me. 
Me galreke maieme. 
Me is Sinhalese inaiema from Sinhalese inayema, magenia my own. 
We two have come from Bulugahaladena. 
Kakidai mai mangacawe Biiliigahaladening. 
Kakula, child, boy, then kakulai mai the child and I, the 
final i of each word is the equivalent of the Sinhalese yi 
(colq.) and t: Mai from the Sinhalese inamayi ; -ing -in the 
ablative case ending. The finite verb in Sinhalese is placed last 
in the sentence. 

Bring your bow and arrow. 

Malaliyai moreanai arang mangacapa. 

Moreanai is a shortened form of moriankeca arrow. Arang 

the equivalent of the Sinhalese aran having taken. The literal 

translation of this sentence would be " Having taken bow and 

arrow come." 

This wood is wet, I cannot make fire. 
Me dande diapodga maiidevela gina iicana kode. 
Diapodga mandevela " water being absorbed " or " being 
surrounded by water" (Sk. inand or maud). 

Ucana from Sanskrit ush to burn : Me and dande are Sinhalese. 
He climbed a tree to find a bees' nest. 
Kanda arini patagacana ruke pene negige. 
Patagacana is to break and not to find ; pene negige is the 
equivalent of the Sinhalese /^^//<7 noenge, literally he jumped and 

But the branch was rotten and he fell. 
Eke dira bacela patagacan palage. 
Eke, Sinhalese it ; there is no word for branch ; dira having 
been rotten ; bacela Sinhalese paJiala down ; palage he fell 
(Sanskrit pat to fall) or he jumped (Sanskrit pin to jump). 


There are no bananas in my chena, but much Indian corn. 
Mai henipodga pucenewa kciirlana tenak tenak tibinya keJielpodga 

Mai Sinhalese meJii here ; Jiempodga is the Sinhalese hena, 
i.e. chena ; pucenewa\idM\r\^ been burnt ; kcurlana Indian corn (?); 
tenak tenak little little, some. 

Literally translated the sentence runs " Here the chena 
having been burnt (i.e. prepared in the usual manner) there 
is some Indian corn, there are no bananas." 

He killed the sambar and dried its flesh over the fire. 
Kankuna patagacala ginaucala pticakadala kavilanye. 
Patagacala being killed ; ginaucala having made a fire 
{SinhdAQse gini avussala); pucakadala having burnt; kavilanye 
he eats. 

Literally "The sambar being killed, having made a fire (and) 
having burnt (its flesh) he eats." 

When a man is dead we go away from that cave. 
Mini botadanimana pata inang venakette mangacana one. 
Pata is the Sinhalese vita when ; niang is the Sinhalese mam 
I ; venakette is from the Sinhalese zwMrt'/rtiy^rt, to another quarter; 
one is the Sinhalese onde, ought, must. 

Literally " When a man is dead I must go to another quarter." 
The dog scents a deer. 
Kuka pakaragandekate mnngacanya. 
Pakaragandckate to smell good. 

Literally this would be translated somewhat as follows : 
" The dog moves after a good smell." 

Which is the road to Dambani ? 
Danibanete mangaccna viompodgak koJiede. 
Monipodgak a road is derived from mom Sinhalese man road 
and podgak. 

Although we are unable to offer, any opinion as to the pre- 
cise age of the Vedda dialect there is no doubt that it is at least 
of respectable antiquity. Geiger {pp. cit. p. 89), while admitting 
that the material at his disposal is insufficient to allow him to 
give " a full picture of the dialect," considers " beyond dispute " 
that it contains " an archaic element " and he cites the verb 
p. gacchati which in the Vedda dialect exists in the form gacana. 


whereas only the gerund ^^i' occurs in Sinhalese\ Nevill writes 
of the Vedda dialect as being "largely identical with the old 
Sinhalese now called Elu." 

This carries its formation back some hundreds of years ; and 
whether Nevill's statement is literally correct or not the archaic 
forms and incomprehensible expressions preserved in the invo- 
cations given in Chapter X show that the Vedda dialect arose 
at least some centuries agol 

Our Vedda vocabularies contain a few of the non-Aryan 
words of unknown origin which are noted by Geiger as occurring 
in Sinhalese such as kola leaf, kasa coconut (in composition to 
form kasapengediya) and rilava monkey. They contain a far 
larger number of Aryan words which Mr Gunasekara considers 
are not Sinhalese, or contain a non-Sinhalese element. 

Such words are : agedya mouse deer, basekarea monkey, 
bopatte breast, bota man, botadamanya to kill, to die, botakabala 
elephant, dcida lightning, doiida monkey, enavacenava to strike, 
enomikalapa to ask, gabiaci iron, giilekepa to fall, kadira bat, 
kaeriya bear, katanianye to speak, kike a small lizard, labacanava 
to strike, langcenaiva to make, lemba axis deer, nmvibtida tortoise, 
mangacenaiva to come or to go, viola elephant, okma buffalo, 
pakaragaiide ganye and piichama ganya to smell, pakerevila bad, 
pisiawi dance, pitagaca crocodile, rukka squirrel, sakolava sun, 
sajiibala axe, sil powa neli rain, taekkiya axe, toll honey comb, 
yamake areca cutter^. 

1 Ml Parker writes: " I do not feel sure that gacana is derived from the Pali word 
gacchati, to go. There is a general absence of Pali derivatives in the Vaedda dialect. 
When used to express 'to go' or 'to come,' the word is always iiiangacana, in 
which man is of course ' road,' the Sinhalese manga ; this word would be unnecessary 
\i gacana means 'to go.' It seems not unlikely that the word is gasaita, 'to strike,' 
which in Sinhalese has several meanings when combined with other words, as in 
aiidagasanawd, 'to call,' and tatu-gahanaiva, 'to pluck off feathers. ' " 

- Mr Parker writes : " I think that the earlier forms of Vaedda words are of 
a later type than those of the inscriptions of the first five or six centuries a.d., and 
partly for this reason I used the expression ' some centuries after Christ,' quoted by 
you on page 443, without attempting to fix any date." 

^ Reference to the vocabulary at the end of the book will show that a number of 
these words are closely allied to Sinhalese words, while some appear to be corruptions 
of the latter. We are indebted to Dr Barnett for pointing out that detila is derived 
from the Sinhalese vidtdiya (Prakrit vijjullaya) while it seems reasonable to derive 
" man " bota from the Sinhalese podda which has itself been adopted from Tamil. 


Mr Gunasekara's opinion as to the origin and relationship of 
these words will be found in the vocabulary at the end of the 
volume, where we also give his explanation of the many peri- 
phrases we collected ^ 

We may refer here to the use of the affix -poja which the 
Veddas join to many nouns, thus " blood " is called lepoja and 
the sun irapoja. Inquiries made from Veddas and peasant 
Sinhalese failed to suggest any origin for this affix, which can 
scarcely be connected with the Sinhalese words podda and poda 
" little," " little thing " as was suggested by some of our Sinhalese 
informants. We therefore fall back upon a suggestion made to 
us by Mr Gunasekara that poja is a corruption of Sanskrit 
piidgala {?. piiggald) "individual," "body," "matter," "personal 
identity." If this explanation is correct then lepoja is the equiva- 
lent of " the individual or thing (called) le blood," irapoja of "the 
individual or thing (called) ira sun," Juilampoja of "the individual 
or thing (called) Jiulati wind." The use cf this word may have 
been found convenient when a foreign word was adopted by 
the Veddas, to make it clear that the borrowed word referred 
to a concrete object. Later, when the new word had become 
universally intelligible and was firmly established in the Vedda 
dialect, poja must have been gradually dropped from a great 
number of nouns, and this doubtless is probably the reason why 
at present /^'(« is affixed only to a minority of words, and while 
commonly used by some Veddas is scarcely heard in other com- 
munities. This view is supported by Mr Gunasekara's remark 
that piidgala has been used by the Sinhalese in the sense of 
" person " (individual), though he considers that its use as an affix 
to a considerable number of nouns is a purely Vedda feature. 

Mr Parker suggests that there may be more than one origin 
for -poja as used by the Veddas, " thus, lepoja might be lepoda, 
drop of blood. There is also a Sinhalese word pajd (Skt. prajd) 

^ It is extremely probable that some of the words in this list may be derived from 
Tamil, the following being suggestions for which we are indebted to Mr Parker : 
okmd buffalo, T. ukkam a bull, ox or cow ; mold elephant, T. nwlei a hornless beast ; 
kaeriyd bear, T. kari black and ekd one ; toll honey comb, cf. T. tollei hole, per- 
foration, tube ; sakolawa sun, cf. T. sakkarani a circle, disk, wheel (Sk. cakra) ; 
dondd monkey, cf. T. tondu slave; ritkkd, Sin. ni/c tree and ekd one, i.e. "the tree 


creature, one meaning of the Sanskrit word being ' designating,' 
' indicating.' " 

The occurrence of a large number of the non-Sinhalese Aryan 
words in the Vedda vocabulary seems to us of considerable 
importance. Many of these words are derived or borrowed from 
the Hindi and Marathi languages or from Sanskrit words which 
according to Mr Gunasekara "are seldom or never used in the 
Sinhalese language." 

This implies that these languages must at one time have 
materially contributed to the formation of Sinhalese, and if it 
could be determined at what period they had passed into the 
vulgar tongue in Ceylon, this would give us the earliest date at 
which the Veddas could have adopted Sinhalese, 

At present this seems impossible, but valuable suggestions 
concerning the period or periods at which the northern influence 
was exerted may perhaps be gathered from the age of the Sinha- 
lese folk-tales of Northern origin collected by Mr Parker from 
districts in the interior of the Island " where story-books in 
Sinhalese, Tamil, or Arabic do not appear to have penetrated, 
and English is unknown by the villagers." This quotation as 
well as those which follow are taken from the introduction 
(pp. 37 and 38) to Mr Parker's recent volume Village Folk 
Tales of Ceylon. Mr Parker, after referring to stories due 
to immigrants from South India, writes as follows concerning 
those which he considers were brought in by " settlers from the 
Ganges valley, or near it. 

" With regard to the latter, it is not probable that they con- 
sisted only of the early immigrants of pre-Christian times. 
King Nissanka-Malla, who reigned from 1 198 to 1207 A.D., has 
recorded in his inscriptions that he was a native of Sinhapura, 
then apparently the capital of the Kalinga kingdom, which 
extended far down the east coast of India, southward from the 
lower part of the Ganges valley ; and he and his chief Queen 
Subhadra, a Kalinga Princess, must have brought into Ceylon 
many of their fellow-countrymen. The Queens of two other 
earlier Kings of Ceylon were also Princesses from Kalinga. 

" In the Galpota inscription at Polannaruwa (Prof E. Miiller's 
Ancient Inscriptions in Ceylon, No. 148), he stated that "invited 


by the King [Parakrama-Bahu I], who was his senior kinsman, 
to come and reign over his hereditary kingdom of Lakdiva 
[Ceylon], Vira Nissanka-Malla landed with a great retinue in 
Lanka " [Ceylon]. Further on in the same inscription he stated 
that " he sent to the country of Kalinga, and caused many 
Princesses of the Soma and Surya races to be brought hither. 

"A connexion with the Kalinga kingdom seems to have been 
maintained from early times. In his inscriptions the same king 
claimed that the sovereignty of Ceylon belonged by right to the 
Kalinga dynasty. He described himself in his Dambulla in- 
scription {Ancient Inscriptions, No. 143) as "the liege lord of 
Lakdiva by right of birth, deriving descent from the race of 
King Wijaya," the first king of Ceylon, who, according to the 
Sinhalese historical works, was also born at a town, called 
Sinhapura, which is stated to have been founded by his father. 
In the Galpota inscription we read of " Princes of the Kalinga 
race to whom the island of Lanka has been peculiarly appro- 
priate since the reign of Wijaya." 

As we have already stated in Chapter i the story of Wijaya 
indicates that there was frequent communication between Ceylon 
and Indian ports; we may now refer to the Mahawansa, in which, 
as Mr Parker remarks, " there is a definite and credible state- 
ment that vessels sailed direct from it [the port of Tamalitta] to 
Ceylon in the reign of Asoka in the third century B.c.^" 

The respectable, if not the extreme antiquity of the Vedda 
vocabulary is supported by the existence of a few words re- 
taining their common meaning in Vedda and the kaelcbasa 
language. Although Mr Parker does not explain the origin of 
the words in the kaelcbasa list published in Ancient Ceylon, he has 
given the derivation of a considerable number of words occurring 
in the kaelcbasa of Northern Ceylon in the Taprobaniaii (Vol. II, 
pp. 15 — 21), in which he discusses, the origin and age of the 
language. Accepting his conclusions " that many of these 
forms are very ancient; — that they are, in fact, probably survivals 
from an ancient dialect which was once spoken throughout a 

^ Village Folk-Tales of Ceylon, p. 42. The voyage from Tamalitta to Ceylon 
is mentioned in the Mahaivansa on page 46. Another voyage from the same port, 
when the Bo-tree cutting was conveyed to Ceylon, is described on pp. 74, 75. 
Tamalitta is thought to have occupied the site of the modern Tamluk at the mouth of 
the Hoogly. 


great part of the island," the occurrence of such names in Vedda 
and kae/ebasa^s,nianda{or mundd){ox the monitor lizard (Sin. ^^j^), 
and of viaruhi (from tnaraka a destroyer, a hawk, and luzva great) 
for the Brahminy kite (Sin. ukussa), shows that the Vedda dialect 
was formed at least as long ago as that period when the Sinhalese 
were driven out of the Northern Province by the Tamils^ 

A single Vedda word sappi or cappi bird closely resembles 
the Sakai word ciap, cap or cep ; in spite of the relationship re- 
cognised by some as existing between the Veddas and Sakai 
we hold this similarity to be of no significance, both words 
probably being onomatopoeic'-. 

^ Referring especially to the Wanniya "a race of hunters" who reside in small 
villages of badly built houses in the northern part of the North Central Province, 
extending from Padawiya to Tantrimalei, and who use a number of kachbasa words, 
Mr Parkfer writes {op. at. p. i8): "Like the hunters of the North- Western and 
North-Central Provinces, the Wanniyas make use of the remnants of a special dialect 
when engaged on their forest expeditions, under the belief that its employment tends 
to preserve them from wild animals, and to render them successful in their search for 
honey and meat. This dialect is known as the ' kaelebasa,' jungle language, and the 
Wanniyas themselves speak only a very few words of it. Other fragments are to be 
met with among Sinhalese throughout all Northern Ceylon. That these words 
originally formed part of one language is to be inferred from the fact that not more 
than a few of the forms which present the most ancient appearance can be specially 
selected as peculiar to a certain district. In one village, or a group of villages, a few 
are known ; in another, some of the same words and a few others ; while some of the 
words which are used at Padawiya are not only well-known in the North- Western 
Province, but are even used upon similar occasions in Southern and Eastern Ceylon. 
Some of them are also among the threshing-floor vocabulary, and a smaller number 
are employed by Waeddas." Again on page 20 we read : " .So far as this language is 
concerned, it may be concluded that the Wanniyas are, as they state, Sinhalese. 
Taking into consideration the facts that they are found only on or near the northern 
borders of the Kandian Kingdom, that they (or at any rate such of them as I have met) 
speak Tamil, and that some of them have Tamil names, and also remembering the 
particulars which I have given regarding their religion, it may further be inferred that, 
as their name would seem to indicate, they form a remnant of the ancient Sinhalese 
inhabitants of what is now the Northern Province. Throughout the whole of this 
district, extending, in fact, within a few miles of Elephant's Pass, there are abundant 
proofs that it was once peopled largely by Sinhalese ; yet it is doubtful if any other 
distinct descendants of the former occupants can now be found. The rest of the 
Sinhalese population may perhaps have almost completely died out, for the inhabitants 
of the Sinhalese villages in the southern parts of the Province are, with very few 
exceptions, comparatively recent settlers who have migrated during this century from 
the North-Central districts. " 

^ Mr Gunasekara while not denying that sappi may be onomatopoeic suggests that 
it may have arisen as a corruption of the Sanskrit word pakshi bird. Mr Parker 
considers that this word is derived from the Tamil Issappi (pronounced tccappi) a fly- 
eater or bee-eater, from sappii to chew. 



The extraordinary skill displayed by the Veddas in dis- 
covering game and honey led us to test their senses as far as 
the time at our disposal would allow. Before recording the 
results of these tests in detail we may state the impression 
produced by certain incidents of our intercourse with the 
Veddas. We several times had Vedda guides and invariably 
noticed that, however difficult the ground, they walked quickly 
and noiselessly without apparently paying any attention to 
their footsteps. Nor did they ever seem even momentarily at 
a loss as to the direction to take in order to reach any part of 
their territory, in spite of the absence of obvious tracks. We do 
not think that they depended to any considerable extent on the 
sun ; indeed, the conditions under which our most striking ex- 
perience of this kind took place puts that out of the question. 
We left our camp at Sitala Wanniya early one morning with 
Handuna and his son-in-law Kaira to walk to a cave which 
proved to be about four miles distant. Our course lay through 
dense jungle, it rained intermittently and the glimpses of the 
sky which we obtained showed that it was completely overcast 
during the whole of the time. There was no sign of a track, 
and except once for about a couple of hundred yards we did 
not follow any stream though we crossed several. Nevertheless 
Handuna led us at a rapid walk straight up to the rock shelter 
which was our destination. This faculty is shared by another 
people inhabiting Ceylon, the Wanniya, the inhabitants of the 
Wanni, a large forest tract in the North Central Province. The 
life led by these hunters in some respects resembles that of the 


Veddas, for they depend largely on game and honey for their 
subsistence and like the Veddas are bow-men. Mr Parker, who 
has spent much time in the Wanni, gives an account of a journey 
he made guided by Wanniya which is so interesting that we 
quote it at length. 

" I was taken by some Wanniyas through a piece of wild 
pathless forest ten or eleven miles across, near Padawiya tank, 
at the north-eastern boundary of the North-Central Province. 
The jungle was dense, and the journey therefore occupied all 
day. Of course we were unable to proceed in a straight line, 
and more than once we deviated into a right-angle from our 
proper direction in order to avoid thorny jungle that was said 
to be in front of us. At about one o'clock we came to a high 
rock, as they had promised, on the top of which good rain water 
is always retained in a hollow. There we cooked and ate some 
food, after which we resumed our tramp. In the middle of the 
forest, as we were proceeding along a deer-track, one of the men 
drew my attention to a half-broken twig hanging at the side of 
the path. ' I broke that two years ago,' he said ; he was then 
proceeding at a right-angle from the line we were taking. 

" When I asked him if he never lost his way in such thick 
forest, full of undergrowth, he at first could not understand my 
meaning. After I had explained it — feeling while doing so that 
I was making an interesting exhibition of my ignorance — he 
laughed consumedly and thought it a capital joke. ' How can 
one lose it ? ' he said. He had never heard of such a thing 
before ; to him it appeared to be quite impossible, apparently 
as much so as getting lost in an open field would be to us. 
' When we look at the sun we always know which way to go,' 
he remarked. The men justified my confidence in their powers 
by emerging, just before dusk, at the very spot where I wished 
to arrive, man}- miles from the homes of any of the party. 
Those who had acted as guides lived some twelve miles or 
more away, by the nearest footpath ; and the house of the man 
who lived nearest was five miles from the point where we left 
the forest. I have always thought it a very clever feat'." 

Mr Parker's account of the jungle craft of the Wanniya is 

^ Ancient Ceylon, pp. 77, 78. 


SO vivid and applies so thoroughly to the progress of the Veddas 
through the jungle that we again quote from his work. 

" While engaged on a hunting expedition, these hunters [the 
Wanniya]... glide along in single file, avoiding every leafy twig 
the rustling of which might betray their presence, or if game be 
near holding it until the next man can take charge of it, and 
hand it over in the same manner to the man behind him. At 
such times all tread in the footprints of the first man, who when 
putting his foot on the ground first glides his toes along it in 
order to push aside any twigs or leaves that might emit a noise 
if crushed. Their eyes and ears are fully alert to catch the 
slightest sound or movement among the thick jungle around 
them. ...They hear sounds and see objects that to a person 
whose perception is dulled by civilisation might as well be 
altogether absent, so far as his power of observation is con- 
cerned. Their trained ears detect the footfall of the wild forest 
animals walking through the jungle at considerable distances 
away, and can distinguish even the species by means of the 
sound, which is quite inaudible to less experienced observers. 
If any uncertainty exists regarding it they crouch down, or 
kneel with one ear on the ground, and soon clear up their 
doubts. When they are in search of Deer or other animals 
with keen sight, they hide their cloth by hanging leafy twigs 
round their waist-string. This certainly gives them a very wild 
appearance, but there is no trustworthy evidence to show that 
it was the primitive dress of the aborigines of Ceylon. 

" Wild honey being one of their favourite foods, their vision 
and hearing are trained to an astonishing quickness in detecting 
every Bee that flies across their path, and noting its species, and 
whether it is flying laden or is only in quest of food. When it 
is carrying a load of honey and flying straight through the trees, 
they at once move off in the same direction, if it be the season 
in which the hives contain honey, that is, August and September, 
knowing of course that the laden insect makes a direct flight to 
its hive — the proverbial bee-line. As the nest is approached 
other Bees are seen converging towards it, and in a few minutes 
it is certain to be discovered ^" 

1 op. cit., pp. 70, 71. 


Doubtless Mr Parker is right in ascribing the marvellous 
jungle craft of the Wanniya to trained perception and powers 
of observation, for the equally fine performance of the Veddas 
is certainly not due to any all round superiority of the senses, 
as our observations on sight and hearing indicate. 

Visual Acuity. 

The visual acuity of twenty-four Vedda men and youths was 
tested by the E method described by Dr Rivers \ The majority 
of the subjects we tested quickly learnt what was required of 
them, though they were far less interested in this than in the 
colour vision tests and illusions, to which we shall refer pre- 

The average distance at which a Vedda could distinguish 
the letter E was 14 metres, no appreciable difference being 
detected between the Veddas of the wildest groups (Sitala 
Wanniya, Henebedda) and the more sophisticated Veddas of 
Bandaraduwa. Giving the results on the same plan as that 
adopted in the second volume of the Reports of the Expedition 
to Torres Straits, 10 men (41770) have a visual acuity ex- 
pressed by less than 2; 12 (50%) have an acuity between 2 
and 3. The greatest distance at which E was recognised was 

' This method is a modification of the E test devised by Cohn, "in which a letter 
E can be exposed in any desired position through a circular hole in a card. The subject 
of the test has to place a letter E which he holds in his hands in the same position as 
one shown to him. Instead of the small cardboard E provided in Cohn's test, I used 
a larger letter E pasted on a board. Cohn's method is very simple and convenient 
and it entirely removes the danger rccompanying the older tests, that the letters may 
be learnt by heart during the process of testing. 

" In general the procedure was the same as that previously adopted in Torres Straits ; 
the observations were made in the open air, both eyes were used, and the distance at 
which a native made two mistakes in ten exposures was taken as his limit of vision. 
In one respect the procedure differed; with the older form of the test it was most con- 
venient to begin with the observer beyond his far limit of vision, and to bring him up 
towards the test-types till he could decipher the letters. With Cohn's form of the test, 
I first showed the E in various positions at a short distai.ce, and as soon as I had 
satisfied myself that the native understood the method of testing, I gradually increased 
the distance till I reached a point at which the positions of the letter could no longer 
be recognized." {British Journal oj Psychology, Vol. i, 1905, p. 323.) 


19 metres; this occurred twice. According to the system in 
ordinary use the position of the letter E used is supposed to 
be distinguished by the normal eye at a distance of 6 metres, 
that is, the average sight of a Vedda would be put down as 
2'33 times the normal. It is, however, well known that the 
results obtained are greatly influenced by the quality and nature 
of the light existing during the test, and comparison with the 
figures obtained in other countries shows that there is little 
difference between Veddas and other races. This was confirmed 
by the results of the examination of ten peasant Sinhalese whose 
average visual acuity was 17 metres, while if one man of dis- 
tinctly subnormal vision be ignored the average acuity of the 
remaining nine works out at nearly 185 metres. The keenest 
sighted individual could distinguish the position of the letter E 
at 22 metres. 

Acuity of vision as tested by the E method seems to 
decrease in middle life, but this although often quite well 
marked does not lead to any recognised diminution of hunting 
capacity, practice and knowledge fully making up for the 
physical changes in the eye. 

Colour Vision. 

The alleged absence of the full appreciation of colours 
among the Veddas was brought forward in Ceylon as a proof 
of their low mental capacity, but careful observations made with 
coloured wools and papers showed their perception of colour 
to be extremely acute. Forty-two adult males, 1 5 women and 
3 boys were tested for colour blindness with a negative result. 
The majority of our subjects matched the wools quickly and 
accurately, and of those who at first made mistakes nearly all 
matched a wool with another of the same saturation but of a 
different colour. This was particularly noticeable in one old 
woman who picked out the wools and arranged them in heaps 
composed of varying colours of the same saturation. 

Colour names were collected from 31 men and 4 women 


by means of Rothe's set of colour papers and the results ob- 
tained in this way were checked by frequent reference to 
Holmgren's wools. When shown the coloured papers and asked 
the names the more sophisticated among the Veddas gave the 
usual Sinhalese colour names, red ratiL ; orange and yellow 
kaha ; green (three shades) and blue and purple were all 
called ;///; black kalu\ white sudu. However few men used 
all the Sinhalese names, most of the men making comparison 
with natural objects for at least one or two of the colours, while 
the least sophisticated men made comparisons for all the colours. 
Handuna of Sitala Wanniya compared all colours to flowers and 
leaves except red and orange for which he gave the usual Sin- 
halese terms. As the flowering season had not begun at the 
time of our visit we were unable to test the accuracy of his 
comparisons with the objects themselves, therefore after the 
colour papers had been put away we repeated the names he 
had told us and asked him to pick out similar colours from the 
coloured wools. This he did, and we found that these matched 
the colour papers to which the flower names had originally been 
applied with extraordinary accuracy. This man and others as 
uncontaminated as himself distinguished the two shades of blue 
and the three of green of the papers, while those who had mixed 
more with Sinhalese applied ;/// to all shades of blue and green. 
In order to test whether Handuna knew the ordinary Sinhalese 
colour names, we gave him the bundle of wools and asked him 
to show us sudu (white), he then picked out white and the very 
slightly saturated colours of all shades. For ratu (red) he gave 
all the strongly saturated shades of red, purple, claret, bright 
pink and brown shading off to yellow ; kaha (yellow) included 
yellows and a few pale pinks ; nil (blue and green) included all 
strongly saturated blue and green-grey tints, violet and some 
dark browns ; these darker shades he also said were kalu (black) 
and he compared them to the bark of trees. 

It was noticed that on asking the names for the colour 
papers the Veddas made comparisons, likening the red paper 
to a red flower or saying " red like blood," while the purple 
paper was compared to a blue flower ; the three shades of green 
shown would often be compared to three different kinds of 


leaves, whereas the rural Sinhalese would say ratu for the two 
first colours and nil for the four last. 

Other comparisons frequently made by Veddas were " like 
hatu " used both for orange and black, a source of great be- 
wilderment till it was discovered that /latu was a general term 
for fungus, a bright orange and a black species being brought to 
us to clear up the difficulty. 

Red was compared to fire, black to the coat of a bear, pure 
white to coconut milk and dirty white to the wax of the bambara. 
Generally speaking it appeared that the more unsophisticated 
the Vedda the less he used the Sinhalese colour terms, using in 
their place references to familiar objects. " Like blood " was a 
frequent comparison, sometimes used for red and sometimes for 
purple. Though colours were occasionally compared to bird's 
feathers we did not note any compared to butterflies. When 
shown purple, violet and blue, most Veddas said they did not 
know those colours or had never seen anything like them, and 
one said the same of yellow. 

Forty-eight rural Sinhalese were tested for colour blindness 
and no case was found. The coloured wools were usually 
matched quickly and accurately. Colour names were collected 
from 25 men, the usual names given were ratii for red and 
purple, kaJia for yellow and orange, nil for all greens and blues 
and sometimes for violet and purple, kalu for black and also 
often for indigo, siidii for white. Other words occasionally given 
were dmnbiitii or diunbnrn^ once given for black, three times for 
violet, once for blue and once for purple, and on one occasion 
when wools instead of papers were shown the same word was 
applied to a shade of claret. Illalu'^ was used once for purple, 
and once for violet. Guru'' which means mud was given on one 

^ Mr Parker informs us "that du»ibutu is the same as duviburti and means a dark 
reddish purple or according to Clough 'a compound of red and black ' and is sometimes 
applied to the dark rain clouds of the evening." 

2 Elalu is stated in Clough's Dictionary to be applied to "a fair complexion, light 
red, brown." 

* Mr Parker writes, "In Clough's Dictionary the meanings oi guritgala are 'red 
chalk [Platerite], red orpiment, gold' but '■guru colour' is applied colloquially to a 
purple sky." In the invocation to Pannikkia Yaka (Chapter X, No. XIV) guru is 
applied to the sky and the earth at dawn. 

s. v. 26 



occasion for orange and on another for violet ; taniba (copper) 
was used for violet and blue, this word was also given for the 
colour of our hair when it applied equally to dark and red hair. 
Sinhalese hair was called kalu. Pachha was once used for 
yellow-green, this being a Tamil word for green. 

Whereas the Veddas seemed to think of colours by a mental 
reference to the appearance of leaves, flowers and other natural 
objects, the Sinhalese far more usually made use of colour terms, 
and none distinguished as many shades as the Veddas except 
Tissahami, " the Vedda Arachi," whose keen comparisons make 
his observations worthy of record in full. Several Sinhalese 
likened red and purple to blood, and compared green with the 
colour of leaves. Tissahami was first shown the colour papers, 
for red he gave ratu and said it was like fire ; yellow he said he 
did not know ; bright green nil, blue-green nil, blue kalu, these 
three he compared to different kinds of creepers ; purple he said 
he did not know ; violet like the small stingless bee ; black kaht ; 
white sudn. He was so interested in looking at colours and 
comparing them that we showed him several other objects. The 
outside of a pig-skin pocket book he called duinburu, the cleaned 
and unpolished side of the leather he compared to clay. He 
was then shown the bundle of coloured wools which he examined 
at will, comparing and naming those he chose, a grey approach- 
ing violet he called dumbnru ; dark greyish-brown he said was 
like a certain kind of leaf ; golden yellow like monkey's fat ; a 
light yellow-brown like a spider's web ; greenish-blue like the 
leaves of a particular kind of yam ; a deep claret almost brown 
he compared to the bark of a tree which is chewed with areca 
nut and dark greyish-violet to a village potato. It seems that 
this man whose keen intellect we have referred to in Chapter II 
had retained something of the Vedda mode of thought acquired 
during his contact with them in his youth. 



Visual Illusions. 

The Miiller-Lyer Illusion. We used the improved apparatus 
made of thin xylonite (Fig. 15) devised by Dr Rivers. "One 
part of the apparatus sHdes in and out of a framework, on the 
upper surface of which is drawn one-half of the Miiller-Lyer 
figure, while the other half is drawn on the moveable sliding 
portion. The lines of which the figure consists are only half a 
millimetre broad and the point of junction between the two 
parts of the figure corresponds with the line of junction between 
the two parts of the apparatus.... 

• • • • • * 

■ ^ ^^I^ 

• « • • • « 

Fig. 15. 

" The observer had to make five observations by sliding the 
moveable part in till the two lines of the figure appeared to him 
to be equal to one another, and then a second series of five 
measurements was made by drawing the sliding part outwards 
till the two parts again appeared equal. In the first series, the 
variable line was made equal to the standard by a process of 
shortening, in the second, by a process of lengthening the variable 

Seventeen Veddas were tested, all of whom appeared to 
take great interest in the matter. . 

The average length seen by them was 52 01 (begin long) and 
52*09 (begin short). It is of interest to compare these figures 
with average taken from 13 Sinhalese — 55'33 (begin long) and 
557 (begin short), as well as those taken by Dr Rivers in India. 

British journal of Psychology, Vol. i, p. 356. 



Twenty Todas gave an average of 6r2 (begin long) and 58*4 
(begin short), while 28 Uralis and Sholagas, i.e. members of 
jungle tribes comparable in some respects with the Veddas, gave 
an average of 57*2 (begin long) and 53'4 (begin short). 

One Vedda, who first gave 75, i.e. did not see the illusion, 
afterwards gave 61*54, 51*58. The most correct measurements 
were given by Vela, 66, 64, 63, 74, 72, average 67*8 (begin long), 
and 65, 65, 6"], 69, 72, average ^y^ (begin short). In many 
instances although the men were interested and apparently 
trying their best each time the results in all their five attempts 
showed great variations. Among the Sinhalese, on the other 
hand, the results from separate individuals were often remark- 
ably constant, one man giving 58, 58, 56, 60, 59, and another 
60, 56, 57, 57. The average of 16 Sinhalese gave 55*3 (begin 
long) and 55*7 (begin short). The averages of the mean varia- 
tions (M.V.) of Veddas and Sinhalese are as follows : 
Veddas Sinhalese 

Begin long Begin short Begin long Begin short 

3*5 3"i 3'2 2*5 

Other Illusions. A number of illusions were shown to 
Veddas and Sinhalese. Colour after effects were in general 
seen very clearly as were the parallel line illusions numbered 
B. 3 and B. 4 in the Milton-Bradley collection. A number of 
Sinhalese peasants were especially interested in these parallel 
lines, working out the explanation for themselves ; they were 
also interested in the illusion numbered C. 5, consisting of 
two curved pieces of cardboard of the same shape and of equal 
size which looked of very different size when placed side by 
side. The general explanation of these illusions offered by the 
jungle-dwelling Sinhalese was that their eyes were defective. The 
results obtained by showing equal black and white squares on 
white and black grounds were by no means constant. 


Tactile Discrimination. 

The threshold for the tactile discrimination of two points 
was tested by the method devised by Dr W. McDougall, and 
used by him in Torres Straits^ 

Preliminary observations on Sinhalese in which they were 
told after each test whether they were right or wrong suggested 
that this practice led to speculation on their sensations, their 
subsequent answers being influenced by inference and judgment. 
Accordingly neither Veddas nor Sinhalese were told whether 
their answers were right or wrong. 

The areas of skin tested were : 

(i) The middle of the flexor surface of the left forearm, the 
points being applied in a longitudinal direction. 

(2) The nape of the neck, the points being applied trans- 
versely and about equidistant from the middle line. 

(3) The palm or surface of the terminal phalanx of the left 
index finger, the points being applied longitudinally. 

Our observations which were made on 12 Veddas and the same 

1 This method has been described by Dr Rivers (op. cit., pp. ^61,, 364) as follows: 
" The important feature of this method is that the area of the skin which is being tested 
is touched with one point just as often as with two points. If stimulations with one 
point are only occasionally interspersed between the stimulations with two points so 
that the latter are given more frequently, the results are almost certain to be biassed. 
If the observer either knows or thinks that he is being touched with two points more 
frequently than with one point, he will tend in cases of doubt, to answer 'two' more 
often than 'one.' The error thus introduced can only be eliminated by an absolute 
equality in the number of single and double stimulations. 

" The compass points were applied at a distance from one another decidedly greater 
than the probable threshold, and the distance between them gradually diminished till 
the two points were no longer recognised as two. Twenty stimulations were made at 
each distance at which any error occurred, ten stimulations with one point, and an 
equal number with two points. The distance taken as the threshold is that at which 
two mistakes in ten occur in each kind of stimulation.... 

"A man who called two points 'one' twice and one point 'two' three times at 
a given distance would be rejected at that distance, and the distance next above it 
would be regarded as the threshold. 

"When the skin was touched with one point only, this was applied in the neigh- 
bourhood of one or other of the spots touched in the double stimulations." 


number of Sinhalese showed that on the whole the tactile sensi- 
bility of the two races was equal ; further no member of either 
race showed any great variation from his fellows, 







Vedda average 




mean variation 





Sinhalese average 




mean variation 





Sensibility to Pain. 

The degree of sensitiveness to pain of both Veddas and 
Sinhalese was tested by means of the modification of Cattell's 
algometer used by Rivers and Head\ which differs from the 
original in that the spring is extended instead of compressed. 
" It consists of an ebonite rod 9 mm. in diameter, with smooth, 
somewhat flattened hemispherical head, which slides within a 
large ebonite rod against the resistance of a spiral spring. The 
larger rod is grasped by the operator, and the end of the smaller 
rod applied perpendicularly to the skin and a steadily increasing 
pressure made until the subject cries ' Stop.' A brass pin pro- 
jecting from the smaller rod pushes an index up a scale which is 
attached to the larger rod and graduated in kilograms. The 
degree of pressure exerted can then be read from the index 
after removing the instrument from the skin I" Our subjects 
were instructed to cry out directly they began to feel any pain, 
the algometer always being applied by the same observer who 
endeavoured to increase the pressure at a constant rate. 

The areas chosen for application of the algometer were : 

(i) the centre of the nails of the thumb and index of each 
hand ; 

(ii) the sternum, pressure being applied over the manubrium 
to corresponding spots on each side of the middle line; 

(iii) above the knee, the subject being seated with the knee 

' A Hutnan Experiment in Nei-ve Division. Brain 1908. 
^ Expedition to Torres Straits, Vol. Ii, p. 194. 



bent at right angles and pressure being applied in the centre of 
the limb immediately behind the knee-cap. 

It has been pointed out by Dr Rivers that there is danger 
that "some individuals might regard the experiment as a test of 
the power of enduring pain, and might not speak till they had 
experienced pain for some time and could bear it no longer*." 
We were fully alive to this, and while one observer applied the 
algometer the other would often watch for the slight involuntary 
flinching which in many of our subjects — especially in the 
Veddas — marked the threshold of pain. As will be seen by the 
figures given below the threshold was consistently lower for the 
Veddas than for the Sinhalese. The Veddas were undoubtedly 
more interested in the experiment than the Sinhalese, and the 
flinching accompanying the onset of pain was more frequently 
noted in the former than in the latter. Nevertheless we consider 
that the difference in the figures is not due to carelessness or 
misapprehension on the part of the Sinhalese, but indicates a 
real difference in sensibility to pain in the two peoples. Were 
this not the case we should expect to obtain considerable varia- 
tions in the same individual in the figures given by pressure 
on symmetrical areas ; such variations are, however, quite rare. 

We tested 21 Veddas and 18 Sinhalese, with the results 
shown in the following table : 




Above Knee 





I (L.) 




































Veddas (21) average 

„ „ M.V. 
Sinhalese (18) average 
„ M.V. 

With a single exception (the forefinger in the Sinhalese) 
the thresholds are higher on the right side than on the left. 

1 British [oiirnal of Psychology, Vol. i, p. 372. 


Dr Rivers' experiments upon the Todas gave the same result 
and led him to conclude that the threshold is slightly higher 
on the right than on the left side. In coming to this conclusion 
he took into account a set of control experiments in which the 
left side was first stimulated ; it will be noticed in the above 
table that the left side of the sternum was the first stimulated i. 


No attempt was made to determine the olfactory acuity of 
the Veddas, but our experiments with scents suggested to us 
that this was not specially well developed. Certainly the 
Henebedda Veddas suffered no inconvenience from the ob- 
jectionable smell which arose round the Bendiyagalge rock- 
shelters after a few days' occupation, nor did they seek to 
diminish this smell, which was due to the lack of the most 
elementary sanitary precaution. 

The following scents were offered to a number of Veddas at 
Henebedda, Bandaraduwa, Godatalawa, Sitala Wanniya and 
Unuwatura Bubula : civet, camphor, jasmine, peaii d'Espagne, 
tonquin, orris, assafoetida, peppermint, verbena, crategine, chloro- 
form, Lin. terebinthinae aceticum (B.P.), chloral, and eau de 
Cologne. The men examined were Tuta of Henebedda (i), 
Kaira of Henebedda (2), Poromala Walaha (3), Kaira (bearded) 
of Henebedda (4), the Vidane of Bandaraduwa (5), Banda of 
Bandaraduwa (6), a number of men of Godatalawa (7), Kaira of 
Sitala Wanniya (8), Handuna and Nila of Sitala Wanniya (9), 
Naida and Appu of Unuwatura Bubula (10), Tambia (11), 
Banda (12). 

In most cases their opinions were taken down separately, but 
at Unuwatura Bubula and Godatalawa the scents were passed 
round and the general opinion of our informants recorded. The 
Veddas were always interested in examining the scents, but 
though they said a number of the odours were good they 

1 In his paper in the British Journal of Psychology Dr Rivers discusses at some 
length the possible fallacies of the method described. 


seldom showed any emotion of pleasure : on the other hand 
their demonstrations of dislike were unmistakable. When a 
scent appeared to them particularly distasteful they invariably 
held their noses and cleared their throats, but we do not remember 
seeing them spit. It will be noticed that there is a great varia- 
tion of opinion, and even such a distinct odour as civet is 
considered by some very pleasant and by others extremely 
disagreeable. Again the same simile " squeezed orange skin " 
was used by different men referring to such unlike scents as 
civet and peppermint, and while in the first instance it was 
considered good, in the second it was thought unpleasant. The 
men of Godatalawa compared camphor to the flowers of the 
na tree {Mesua ferred), calling it a good scent, while Kaira of 
Sitala Wanniya said assafoetida was a very bad scent like na 
flowers, and assured us that he disliked the scent of the na flower 
intensely. Except such well known flowers as this and that of 
the mora tree we were unable to identify any of the flowers men- 
tioned as they were nearly all out of season. 

Civet. Good, wild boar's fat (i), good, squeezed orange 
skin (3), not good (4), very bad, like faeces (5) ; good, like 
burning (6) ; good, like a flower smell (7) ; bad, like kalka 
flower (8) ; like wax of tree bambara (9) ; good, like leopard 
fat (10); bad, like faeces (n); bad, like faeces (12). 

Camphor. Good (i) ; good (3); bad, like squeezed orange 
(4); bad (5); good (6); very good, like smell of na flowers (7): 
good, like koel flower (8); good, like a kind of lime (9); good, 
like medicine (10) ; very bad (i i) ; sour, bad (12). 

Jasmine. Good smell, monkey fat (i); good, like smell of 
mangoes (3) ; like honey of buhimal (4) ; bad (5) ; very slight 
smell and not good (6) ; not good, like kapnmal (} Eriodcndron 
anfractiios7im) (7) ; good, like minbuto flower (8) ; like young 
oranges, good (9); bad, like pig fat (10); not good (n); doubt- 
ful (12). 

Peaii d'espagne. Doubtful, like betel leaves (i); good (3); 
good, like moramal honey (4); doubtful, partly good (5); too 
strong (6) ; like coconut spirit (7) ; good, like kiola honey (8) ; 
good, like orange (9); bad, like bear's fat (10); good (12). 

Tonquin. Good, like bear's fat (i ) ; like the fat of the monitor 


lizard, good (4); good (5); good (6); very good, like jak fruit 
{ArtocarpHS intcgrifolid) (7) ; malmini fruit, good (8) ; like honey, 
good (9); bad, like bear's fat (10) ; good (11); bad (12). 

Orris. Good, lime peel squeezed (i); good, like fat of the 
monitor lizard (3); not good, like squeezed orange skin (4) I 
bad (5); like smoke (6); good, like waluinal (7); bad (8) ; bad, 
like lamina (edible) fruit (9); bad, like elk fat (10); bad (11); 
very bad (12). 

Assafoetida. Bad, like bear's fat (i); good (3); bad (4); 
bad (5); good (6); very good, like ghee (7) ; bad, like na flower (8) ; 
bad, like na flower (9); bad (10); bad (ii); bad, like sour 
lime (12). 

Peppermint. Like wild boar's fat (i); like pepper (2); good (3); 
bad, like orange skin (4) ; like smoke (6) ; good, like opoln flowers 
(7) ; bad, like a flower (8) ; good, like malmini fruit (9) ; medicine 
like coriander (10); bad, like burning (li); too strong, bad (12). 
Verbena. Good, squeezed orange skin (3) ; good, like the 
flowers of the mora tree {NepJielium longana) (4); bad (5); no 
smell or very little (6) ; very good, like smell of oil (7) ; good, 
like naram flowers (8); good, like skin of lime (9); like coconut- 
spirit, good (10); like honey (11); bad (12). 

A few jungle Sinhalese showed very much the same varia- 
tions in personal likes and dislikes as the Veddas, but none of 
these men compared the scents to the odour of particular kinds 
of flowers — indeed comparisons were few — though one man who 
disliked the smell of assafoetida extremely called this titai. 
This word was commonly applied to the sensation produced by 
a solution of quinine applied to the tongue^ 

^ We may here note the results ^f a very few experiments on taste. The Veddas 
of Henebedda (we speak especially of the young men of the community) have learnt 
to eat curry as "hot" and as highly spiced as that favoured by the Sinhalese — i.e. a 
curry far "hotter" than suits the palate of a seasoned European. These men resembled 
the peasant Sinhalese in calling the "hot" taste produced by pepper kata pissenawa, 
i.e. mouth burning; quinine they compared to the l^itter karaivila fruit. Sugar or 
anything sweet was always compared to honey by both Veddas and Sinhalese; one of 
the latter compared vinegar to the taste of the juice of limes. 



We made a number of observations on acuity of hearing ; 
owing to the different conditions prevalent on different days 
and in different localities, no attempt is made to compare 
the results obtained from Veddas of different groups. Our 
observations were made with Politzer's Honnesser, an instru- 
ment in which a small metal hammer strikes a metal bar 
and so produces a constant sound, and although no general 
conclusions can be drawn certain of our results seem worthy of 
record. Eight men of Bendiyagalge were tested immediate!}' 
after each other; two of these men, judged to be under twenty, 
heard the sound at 8 and 10 metres respectively; four more or 
less middle-aged men heard it at 3 to 5 metres; and two men, 
Poromala (Wallaha) and his brother Handuna, both of whom we 
judged to be over fifty, could only hear it at one metre or less. 
The figures obtained with the Sitala Wanniya group though 
less striking point in the same direction, so that we seem 
justified in stating that the hearing powers of the Veddas are 
at their maximum during or soon after adolescence, after which 
they soon begin to lessen and may reach a rather low level 
while the individual is still active and energetic, and before his 
capacity as a hunter is noticeably diminished. None of the 
older men with a low auditory acuity had given us any reason 
in daily intercourse to suspect that their hearing was less acute 
than that of their younger comrades. We several times noted 
the very great influence of the position of the head, and we soon 
allowed our subjects to stand with the head in any comfortable 
position in which they could not see the Hormesser, which was 
clicked behind them as nearly as possible at right angles to 
a plane passing through both shoulders. Under these con- 
ditions a Vedda of Danigala, with his head turned so that his 
left ear was inclined towards the Honnesser, could hear four out 
of five clicks at 16 metres, though with his head facing directly 
away from the Hormesser he could only doubtfully hear any- 
thing at 8 metres, and could not definitely hear the sound at a 
greater distance than 5 metres. 


Our observations on Sinhalese were very limited, but led us 
to consider that the acuity of hearing of the peasant Sinhalese 
between the ages of 30 and 40 did not excel that of Europeans, 
for although a few individuals had a higher acuity than our- 
selves, the majority fell below us. 


This is a convenient place to refer to the question of counting. 
With regard to village Veddas our observations confirm the 
experience of others that the village Veddas have adopted the 
Sinhalese numerals, which they use correctly, at least up to 
20, but we cannot say whether they are equally accurate when 
using higher numbers. This facility in counting is not found 
among the wilder Veddas whose method among themselves on 
the rare occasions on which they wish to express a definite 
number is to take small pieces of stick and lay them on one side 
saying as each stick is put down ekavmi " that is one." Beyond 
this the wilder Veddas have a slight knowledge of the meaning 
of the Sinhalese words for the lower numbers. Handuna of Sitala 
Wanniya made no difficulty in picking out 2, 3, or 4 pieces of 
stick from a heap on being given the Sinhalese number ; the 
Sinhalese words for 5 or 6 (^though he said he knew them 
perfectly well) led to hesitation and sometimes to failure in 
picking out the correct number, while larger numbers obviously 
failed to convey any precise idea to him. Although we in- 
terrogated only two other elderly Veddas of the wilder groups 
on this matter the results we obtained from them were so like 
those given by Handuna that we do not hesitate to accept his 
behaviour as typical of the old members of the less sophisticated 
groups of Veddas. and in support of this view we may refer to 
p. 33 on which we have stated the information given on this 
point by a very old Sinhalese informant. We do not attribute 
the Vedda inability to count to any lack of intelligence but 
simply to their having little need to be precise in the matter of 

* For further information concerning this point cf. Ancient Ceylon, pp. 86 and 87. 



In the first chapter we have given an account of those facts 
in the history and pre-history of Ceylon which must be taken 
into account in any investigation of the Veddas, and we referred 
(p. 27) to the common Sinhalese belief that the Veddas were 
once rich and powerful. We stated that we could find no 
adequate reason for this belief, which is held only by the 
Sinhalese and is dismissed with contempt by all Veddas. It 
seemed to us that we had said enough on the subject, but the 
appearance of Mr Parker's recent work, Ancient Ceylon, which 
must always remain authoritative for much which concerns the 
Island, has persuaded us of the necessity for stating at greater 
length the reasons for our opinion. 

Mr Parker's views on the subject of the former civilisation 
of the Veddas will be found on pp. 103 to 112 of Ancient 
Ceylon, and we cannot do better than begin our argument by 
quoting a considerable part of pp. in and 112 in which he 
both states the problem and summarises his views as to its 

" In dealing with the position of the Vaeddas, we are faced 
with this difficulty — that a portion of the race was relatively 
civilised in ancient times, while certain members of it are found 
at the present day almost in the state occupied by some of the 
most primitive peoples. We must adopt a theory which will 
include all the facts of the case ; and not one which ignores 
some of the most important and significant and incontrovertible 
historical details and traditions. We cannot select the smallest 
and wildest group of Vaeddas, and because of their simple life 
as hunters place the whole race in the position which they con- 


tinue to occupy... partly by accident and partly of their own free 

" My conclusion therefore is that whether there has been any 
retrogression of the present Forest Vaeddas from a certain low 
state of civilisation or not, in very early times a great part of the 
race had reached a much more advanced state of culture than 
the wilder members of it, whose more or less isolated life either 
as hunters, or as hunters-and-villagers, did not in many cases 
induce them to feel any desire to participate in it. This more 
civilised portion has absorbed the Gangetic settlers, and ac- 
quired their status and language, and with some intermixture 
of Dravidian blood, or in many instances without it, has become 
the existing Kandian Sinhalese race. 

"The ancestors of the present few hunting Vaeddas — who 
now most probably number much less than one hundred — 
either abandoned, some centuries after Christ, a form of village 
life in which they were partly or chiefly hunters, and reverted 
to the forest life of their forefathers ; or, like some of the wild 
hunting tribes of the South Indian hills, remained, at least until 
very recent years, in nearly the original condition of the first 
comers to Ceylon, apparently simply because they preferred the 
free untrammelled life in the woods, and found their accustomed 
habits and household articles suited to all the requirements of 
a hunter's existence in the forests of Ceylon. The evidence 
afforded by the caves appears to me to be in favour of the 
former theory, which is also supported by the loss of their 
original language and their adoption of the Sinhalese tongue. 
" The majority, however, of those who did not coalesce with 
the Gangetic settlers and their descendants, or accept their mode 
of life and culture, have, in comparatively modern times, and in 
certain instances partly through compulsion — since portions of 
the forests in which they were accustomed to hunt have been 
cut down in order to permit rice and millet cultivation — to some 
extent adopted the more civilised existence of their neighbours. 
Many keep buffaloes, and all but those few who live only by 
hunting and fishing, grow millet and other plants suited to their 
jungle clearings. An exceptional few in favourable sites for it 
even cultivate rice, and, as some of them informed me, in recent 


years have settled down permanently and have planted such 
fruit trees as Coconuts, Areka-nuts, and Plantains about their 

Mr Parker admits such intercourse between the races as is 
necessary to allow intermarriage and a considerable amount of 
social contact-metamorphosis, so that we are in complete agree- 
ment with him concerning the " majority " of whom he speaks 
in the last paragraph, and no one will doubt " that in very 
early times a great part of the race had reached a much more 
advanced state of culture than the wilder members of it." It 
therefore onl)^ remains to discuss his conclusions concerning 
those of whon-i he speaks as the " present Forest Vaeddas." 

We hold that there can be little doubt as to which of the 
two hypotheses put forward by Mr Parker is the correct one, 
and in spite of the fact that he leans towards the opposite view 
we shall now proceed to summarise our reasons for believing 
that the few unsophisticated Veddas of the present day do in 
fact represent the aboriginal inhabitants of Ceylon. 

In the iirst place let us consider their physical characters. 
Experts in comparative anatomy will turn to the work of the 
Sarasins to estimate for themselves the significance of the 
primitive osteological characters they describe ; it is only 
necessary here to refer to the more obvious external characters 
in which the Veddas differ from the Sinhalese. A single glance 
at the photograph reproduced in Plate III shows that two men 
in this group differ in general appearance and in their greater 
stature from their comrades ; these two men, as has been men- 
tioned on p. 16, are half-breeds, as are those shown in figure 1 
of Plate XIV. The younger man might pass for a Sinhalese 
and in features closely recalls the Kandyan Sinhalese figured by 
Denikeri, who does not at all resemble the relatively broad faced 
and broad nosed Veddas shown in Plates III, IV, V and VII. 
Further, among the measurements given in Chapter I the 
average height of 24 male Veddas measured by the Sarasins 
is given as 1-55 m. (about 6o| inches), while the average height 
of 10 Kandyan Sinhalese whom they also measured is r6i m. or 

^ Races of Man, 1900, p. \\(>- 


about 63I inchest We may also refer to the measurements of 
Sinhalese made by M. Emile Deschamps and given in his book 
Ate Pays des Veddas (pp. 464 and 465). M. Deschamps has 
informed us that his measurements were all made on Kandyans, 
among whom he found that the average height of 16 males was 
I -60 m. (about 63 inches) while the average cephalic index of 
14 males was 7 5 "9. 

On the cultural side the evidence, though less obvious, is, we 
believe, no less convincing. There is as far as we can ascertain 
no evidence of there ever having been an organisation into 
exogamous clans among the Sinhalese, but there is not the 
least doubt that this exists among the Veddas, among whom 
it must therefore be considered to have arisen, and we know 
that this is characteristic of many of the more primitive 
Jungle (Dravidian) peoples of India^. The Vedda cult of the 
dead must also be looked upon as a primitive and not an 
adopted feature since it is found among many Indian jungle 
tribes. There is no need to labour this point since the in- 
formation given us by Mr Parker and quoted on pp. 14 and 
142 indicates, not that the Vedda cult of the dead is derived 
from Bandar worship, but that this has arisen among the 
Sinhalese from a cult previously existing in Ceylon. These 
considerations seem to us to put beyond doubt the fact that 
the present day Veddas are the lineal descendants in culture 
as well as in physique of the early (Dravidian) people who 
inhabited Ceylon, before it was colonised by an Aryan-speaking 
people, though they do not rebut the " evidence afforded by the 
caves" (Parker loc. cit.) or explain the adoption by the Veddas 
of the Sinhalese language. 

The caves, however, do not seem to us to present any in- 
superable difficulty. A very small number of caves or rock 

1 We may here quote the opinion of Mr Edgar Thurston who, on looking at a 
number of photographs of Veddas, made the remark that he should not have known 
them from photographs of members of a number of Indian Jungle Tribes. 

2 This is not the place to discuss the meaning of the term "Dravidian" or the 
Dravidian problem ; we use the term to signify the short, dark, dolichocephalic peoples 
of the Deccan. Dr Haddon considers that the Veddas should be classed with the 
Kurumbas, Irulas and some other Jungle Tribes of the Deccan as pre-Dravidians 
{Races of Man, pp. 7 and 13). 


shelters have been excavated, and although the drip-ledges and 
other signs of stone working on those we have ourselves ex- 
amined indicate that they were inhabited by Sinhalese about 
2000 years ago, there are doubtless many others which were not 
used in this way, and we see no difficulty in believing that when, 
during the efflorescence of Buddhism, these caves were inhabited 
by monks, those Veddas who were not drawn within the ever 
widening circle of Sinhalese influence withdrew to other shelters 
in the wilder parts of the country, their descendants, who had 
preserved their independence in the jungle, returning in time to 
what is now the Vedirata and re-occupying the caves. It was 
not perhaps necessary for the Veddas to migrate to another part 
of the country ; this at least is Mr Parker's view, who holds that 
it " is clear that in many instances little establishments of only 
two or three monks must have occupied the caves on some of 
the most secluded of these hills, buried in the depths of the 
dense forests of the wildest parts of the Island. In such sites 
the aborigines could have regained possession of their caves with 
ease and impunity, and with practically no fear of punishment 
by the Sinhalese authorities. In the histories also, there is no 
hint of any quarrels with the natives after the time when Pan- 
dukabhaya became king^" 

We believe that there is nothing a priori improbable in these 
views, and the records of " wild " Veddas all through historic 
times show that there was always some part of the country so 
thinly settled as to allow them to persist as a jungle tribe. 

We come now to the question of language. Mr Parker's 
translations of the invocations we collected, and Mr Gunasekara's 
examination of our vocabularies and songs, indicate that no trace 
of the old Vedda language has survived. This does not, how- 
ever, prove that the Veddas who were the ancestors of the 
present "wild" Veddas were a highly^civilised race who had 
adopted all the customs of their Aryan-speaking neighbours ; 
it is generally admitted that a people may adopt a foreign 
language while retaining its old customs and without greatly 
altering its old method of life. 

^ Op. at. p. 31. 
s. v. 27 


The case of the Bhumij of Western Bengal is particularly 
illuminating. " Here a pure Dravidian race have lost their 
original language and now speak only Bengali. They still 
retain a set of totemistic exogamous sub-divisions closely re- 
sembling those of the Mundas and the Santals. But they are 
beginning to forget the totems which the names of the sub- 
divisions denote, and the names themselves will probably soon 
be abandoned in favour of more aristocratic designations. The 
tribe will then have become a caste in the full sense of the word, 
and will go on stripping itself of all customs likely to betray its 
true descent. The physical characteristics of its members will 
alone survived" Further, " some of the leading men of the tribe, 
who call themselves Bhuinhars, and hold large landed tenures on 
terms of police service, have set up as Rajputs, and keep a low 
class of Brahmans as their family priests. They have, as a rule, 
borrowed the Rajput class titles, but cannot conform with the 
Rajput rules of intermarriage, and marry within a narrow circle 
of pseudo-Rajputs like themselves^" The rest of the tribe, 
numbering at the last census 370, 239, are divided into a number 
of exogamous groups, which include the Sabusi {sal fish), the 
Hansda (wild goose), the Lang (mushroom), Sandiliya (a bird) 
and Hemron (areca palm) clans. 

Mr Parker {pp. cit. p. 96) lays some stress on " the fact " that 
the Veddas " understand and use " the " classical expression " 
Nirindu "chief of men" which occurs in an invocation (Chapter X, 
No 16) we obtained from the Veddas of Sitala Wanniya. We 
may perhaps point out that very many expressions occur in the 
invocations given in Chapter X which the Veddas do not under- 
stand at all, or to which they attach a secondary and incorrect 
meaning. That the expression is classical and is " never em- 
ployed in modern colloquial Sinhalese " is not surprising, for 
as we have shown in Chapter XV the time at which the Veddas 
gave up their own language and assumed the Sinhalese is rela- 
tively remote, so that their charms and invocations may reason- 
ably be expected to contain archaic expressions. We may also 
refer to the passage (already quoted on p. 417) from Mr Parker's 

^ H. H. Risley, People of India, p. 74. - Op- cit. pp. 94, 95 


work in which he speaks of the existence of small and scattered 
Buddhist establishments in the midst of the jungle in which the 
Veddas still lived. We can imagine no condition more favour- 
able for the passage of classical expressions and formulae into 
the Vedda language and religion. 

The use of rice and coconuts in the offerings to the jyaku also 
demands discussion. We have shown that many of the j/akzt 
ceremonies are essentially acts of communion uniting the living 
with the spirits of the dead, and we have hinted our belief that 
the reason for rice and coconut being almost essential parts of 
the offering is that they are the foods of which the Veddas are 
especially fond and which they regard as great delicacies. It is, 
however, obvious that there might be another reason for the 
almost constant offering of these foods ; if we regard the Veddas 
as having fallen from a higher state in which they were cultivators 
then the necessity of offering just these foods to ihe yaku would 
be a survival from the times when rice and coconuts were offered 
by the civilised ancestors of the present day Veddas. 

This period might theoretically coincide either with the 
time referred to in the Mahawansa when equal thrones were set 
up at Anuradhapura by king Pandukabhaya for himself and 
" the yakkha chief Citta^," or it might have been long before the 
time of the conquest of Ceylon by the northern invaders, in which 
event it must be assumed that the Veddas learnt to cultivate 
rice and to grow coconuts from the Nagas or some other 
immigrant race. 

Concerning these two possibilities we can only say that 
we have already on pp. 9 and 10 stated our views as to the 
significance of the elevation of the chief Citta and the political 
organization of his followers. With regard to the possible origin 
of the offerings of rice and coconut in the times before the 
invasion, the Nagas doubtless exercised some influence on the 
aborigines among whom they settled, yet there is every reason 
to believe that outside Nagadipa, this influence was not widely 
spread throughout the Island, at least in any developed form. 

The Mahawansa differentiates very clearly between Nagas 

^ op. cit. Ch. X, p. 43. 

27 — 2 


and Yakkas and the conditions it chronicles at the conquest 
seem to us to indicate the existence of a wild jungle people such 
as we know existed at the time when Europeans first came in 
contact with the Sinhalese. 

We take this opportunity of alluding to the following literary- 
evidence which shows the existence of a jungle people in Ceylon 
in the 4th, 7th, and i ith centuries. 

Tennant has drawn attention to the treatise De Moribus 
Brachnianonnn written in the 4th century a.d. and ascribed 
to Palladius. In this the author cites the account of the Beo-aSe? 
given him by a Theban scholar who, having failed to prosper as 
an advocate, had turned traveller and explorer. The Theban 
stated that " when in Ceylon, he obtained pepper from the 
Besadae, and succeeded in getting so near them as to be able 
to describe accurately their appearance, their low stature and 
feeble configuration, their large heads and shaggy uncut hair — 
a description which in every particular agrees with the aspect of 
the Veddahs at the present day. His expression that he 
succeeded in ' getting near ' them, €(f)6aaa iyjv<i rdov KaXovfxivcov 
BecrdSwp, shows their propensity to conceal themselves even 
when bringing the articles which they had collected in the 

woods to selP." 


Further information concerning the BecraSe? is given by the 
Sarasins (o/>. cit. pp. 578, 579) who used the Greek account in the 
edition of Bissaeus, ignoring the poor translation of this into 
Latin which Bissaeus also gives. The Theban relates " that 
having fallen in with some Indian trading boats which were 
crossing over (to Ceylon) from Axume, he sought to penetrate 
further into the interior (of the Island) and suddenly arrived in 
the vicinity of the so-called Bt^o-a8e9 (in this place written 
^7]^aiSe<;, doubtless in error) who gather pepper. But this 
people is by far the smallest and weakest, they live in rock- 
caves, and know how to climb over the most intricately massed 
rocks and thus gather pepper from the bushes ; for these are 
small trees as the scholar informs us 

" The BidcraB€<i are little men, with large heads and long and 

1 Tennant, o/>. cit. Vol. i, p. 593 n. 


straight hair ; whereas on the other hand the others, the negros 
(Ethiopians) and the Indians, are black and powerful, and curly 
haired. There, he says, I was stopped by the one in power 
(Svvaarevfov) and asked about my business and how I dared to 
force my way into their land ; and while they could not accept 
my explanation because they did not understand our language, 
I could not understand their questions because I did not 

know theirs Their loud voices, their bloodshot eyes, and the 

savage gnashing of their teeth inspired me with fear Held 

captive......! did them service, the task of cooking being 

allotted to me." 

References in Arabic and Chinese writers have also been 
collected by Tennant, who notes (op. cit. Vol. i, p. 272 n.) that in 
the 7th century the Chinese traveller Hioueng Thsang remarked 
that the " Yakkhos " had retreated to the south-east part of 
Ceylon, while in the first half of the nth century the Arabic 
geographer, Alberuni, described the "silent trade" as carried on 
with the ginn or, according to others, with men who were absolute 

We have already cited passages which show that there were 
Veddas living a free life in the jungle in the 17th century, and it 
can scarcely be suggested that between the 12th and 17th 
centuries the Veddas ceased to lead this sort of life and for 
a time adopted the civilisation of the Sinhalese to again lapse 
into wild life in the jungle about the time that European influence 
began to be felt in the Island. 

There is one matter which seems to us more difficult to 
understand than any "'ther, and which, if the Veddas had not 
kept up their division into exogamous clans, it would be difficult 
to explain otherwise than by their having at one time adopted 
Sinhalese habits and customs and having later reverted to a 
wandering jungle life. We refer to their terms of relationship 
which, as already set forth in Chapter III, are identical with 
those employed by the Sinhalese. We consider that this must 
be accounted for in the same way as the assumption by the 
Veddas of an Aryan language, and that the factors which deter- 
mined this at the same time led to the adoption of the Aryan 
terms of relationship. 


In conclusion we may state our opinion of the relationship of 
the Veddas to the jungle tribes of India and to the civilised 
races of Ceylon. We regard them as part of the same race as 
the so-called Dravidian jungle tribes of Southern India. Perhaps 
the few surviving " wild " Veddas have altered less socially than 
the people of the Indian jungle groups, and are therefore to be 
regarded as more primitive than these, but even this is and must 
remain uncertain until we know more of the social life of the 
Indian jungle tribes. Turning to the historic races of the Island, 
we believe that the Kandyans and indeed all the " up country " 
Sinhalese have absorbed a considerable amount of Vedda blood, 
and that their customs have been influenced by the Veddas, 
who, in turn, have learned to speak an Aryan language. The 
Tamils do not appear to owe anything to the Veddas, though 
the religion of those Veddas who live in or near the Tamil 
zone has been influenced by the latter. 






0. S. 

Old Sinhalese. 










Kaelebasa language. 
















Kovil Vanamai. 






Threshing floor language 








Unuwatura Bubula. 




Sitala Wanniya. 


Wannaku o"f Uniche. 














mi p. 


masc. masculine. 

pi. plural. 

p. p. a. past participle adjective. 

p. p. present participle. 

pres. present tense. 

sing, singular. 



1. Areca-nut, gaigedi B. K. Bl. L. T. ; gayipodi R. ; kahatagedi 

B. K. {^.puwak). 

Gaigedi from gai, stone, S. gal, and gedi, fruit, nut. 

Gayipodi from gayi, stone, and podi, that which is small 
(T. podi). 

Kahatagedi perhaps from S. kahata, astringent ; cf. Sk. kashdya 
(H, and M. khafta), acid, ?iw6. gedi, v. supra. 

2. Areca-nut cutter, yamake Bl. from Sk. yamaka, a pair, an areca- 
nut cutter being composed of two limbs (S. gire). [At Bulugahala- 
dena yamake was used for betel pouch instead of the ordinary 
Sinhalese words dulai paiya.] 

3. Arm, adane, aidanda D. Bl.; atiila O. (S. ata, atdanda). 

Adane. If this is the correct word, it is connected with S. 
adina (older form adana), pulling, carrying, i.e. that by which 
carrying etc. is done ; if incorrect it should be adanda. 

Aidanda from ad, at, hand, and datida, staff, arm, hand {S. at- 

Atula from at, hand, and tula, Sk. tala, forearm. Cf. M. tdtd, 
stem, stalk and S. atula, palm. 

4. Arrow, aude T. ; danda D. ; morian keca Bl. ; morian ketiya 
B. K. ; morian fnate K. (S. iya). 

Aude from S. dwude (Sk. dyudha, P. dyudha or dwudha), 
weapon. \_Aude is the term appHed by all Veddas except the 
village Veddas of Bintenne to short-handled ceremonial arrows 
such as are shown in Fig. 8 (page 138).] 

Danda from S. Sk. and P. danda, stick, rod. 

Morian keca from morian S. tnarana, killing (Sk. Jmri P. and 
S. mara), and keca, knife, from Sk. Jkrit, to cut, cf. T. katti. 

Morian ketiya, v. morian keca supra. 

Morian mate, tnate is from S. motala, arrow. 

5. Ashes, alu poj'a D. from S. alu, ashes, and poja from Sk. and P. 
pufija, mass, heap (S. alu). 

6. Ask (v.), enonukalapa Bl. from enonu M. unepand, want, k, a 
(indef. article) and alapa, to question, to speak to (M. Sk. and P. 
Jalap). (S. illanawd, asatiawa.) 


7. Axe, asirikatuwa W.; galrakiya K. D, Bl. L. T .; porodatuia O.; 
poroketiya B. ; porowa W. ; sambala B. ; tariati keca K. ; 
tekkiya R. (S. porowa). 

Asirikatmva, lit. " a cutting instrument with a sharp side or 
edge," from astri (Sk. asri), sharp side or edge, and katuwa (Sk. 
y^r//, M. kata, to cut), cutter. 

Galrakya is given by some writers as galraekke and derived 
from gal, stone, raekka, rubbed or sharpened, cf. H. ragar, 
rubbing. It appears to be connected with H. kulhdri, axe. 

Porodatuia from poriida (Sk. parahvadha), hatchet, battle-axe, 
and tula (Sk. dala, S. tola), piece, blade. 

Poroketiya from S. /^r^, axe, and ketiya, a short thing, i.e. the 
axe itself, cf. M. kotd, kutakd, T. kuttai, that which is short. 

Sambala, cf. M. tabala, axe. 

Tarian keca from /^rz, tree (Sk. and P. taru), an, destroying 
(Sk. and P. adana), and keca {v. supra, No. 4). 

Tekkiya, from Sk. taiika, axe. 

8. Bad, napari, B. T. ; pakerevila D. (S. napuru). 

Napari from Sk. ;^a, not, and puru, heaven, i.e. hell, cf naraka, 
hell, colloquially used in the sense of " bad " in place of napuru 
which is confined to books. 

Pakerevila perhaps from pakara (Sk. priyahara), pleasant, and 
vili (Sk. vina), without. 

9. Banana, kehelgedgi D. Bl. ; ratgediO. (S. kehelgedi). 

Ratgedi, lit. red-fruit, from S. ratu, red, and gediya, fruit. 

10. Bat, kadira N. from Sk. kritti patra, one who has a hide {kritti) 
for its wings {patra), cf. Sk. ajinapatrd, bat (S. vavula). 

11. Be, exist {v.), indine Q. ; laba tibenya Bl. (S. innawd, tibenawd). 

Indine from S. ifidinand, to sit, to be. 

Laba tibenya from /fl^«, having gained (existence), and tibenya^ 
(it) is. 

12. Beads, galmice Bl. ; galwadana B. ; velepoteata W. (S. pabalu). 

Gabnice, lit. throat-gems, from ^«/, throat, neck (S. Sk. and P. 
^a/a), and mice, gems, beads (S. mini, P. ;«a«/, H. maukd), or 
perhaps stone-gems, from S. gal, stone. 

Galwadana, lit. string of stones, from S. ^«/ and wadana, 

Velepoteata from w/^, S. m^/a, creeper, slender cord (M. vela, 


Sk. valli), pote (S. pate, pote\ of a single string, and ata, S. aeta, 
bone, seed, bead. 

13. Bear [Melursiis ursinus), hate7-a ^V. ; keria, N. G. U. D. B. 
L. R. T. ; keri kanda K. ; malapulakuna O. ; tvalbala L. 
(S. walaha). 

Haterd, lit. enemy (S. hatjira, Sk. satrii). 

Keri kanda, lit. black-bodied one, /^f/-/, T. /^rt-r/ (Sk. krishna), 
black ; kanda, who has a body (S. kanda, P. khandha, Sk. 

Malapulakuna, lit. one who throws up dust ; probably referring 
to the habit of breaking up antheaps. Mala, dirt, dust (S. Sk. and 
P. fnala) ; pula, throwing (Sk. pratha, to throw, cast) ; kuna, one 

Walbala, lit. wild dog ; tval S. jungle, wild (Sk. and P. vana) ; 
bald is either a form of vata (S. valahd) or a derivative from 
H. bhdlu (Sk. bhdlukd), from which S. /^«//^, dog, is probably also 
derived. Cf. Sk. bhashaka, barker, dog. Nevill notes that bald 
and vala are also used for bear. 

14. Beard, lotnbuche Bl. perhaps from S. lorn (Sk. and P. loma), body 
hair, and buca (Sk. and P. pjiccha), tail (S. raevula). 

15. Beautiful, /vcza B. (S. ruva). 

16. Become possessed (?^), awecenaiva L. ; murtavena O.; 
yakaenne B. {?>. yakdzvaehenaivd). 

Awecenawa from awece, demoniacal possession (Sk. dvesa), and 
S. wenawd, to become. 

Murtavena from Sk. murchd, fainting, swooning. 

Yakaenne from yaka, spirit, and (?«//^ (S. waehenaiva), to be 
seized or covered. 

17. Bee, (i) bambara {Apis indica), kanda pali Bl. ; kanda ari?ii Bl. 
(S. bambara). 

Kanda pali ; kanda from S. gaiida, scent, perfume, and pali 
(Sk. and P. a//), black bee. Possibly /a// is a compound of pa, to 
drink, and a/z, i.e. the bee that drinks perfumes. Cf. Sk. gandliana, 
a large black species of bee. 

Kanda arini \ kanda, cf. supra, arini, who takes (S. hara, Sk. 
hri, to take, to carry). [Mr Gunasekara points out that this ex- 
pression may also mean " one who lives in the hollow (S. arana) 
of a trunk (S. kaftda)^'' If this explanation be correct kanda 


arini cannot refer to bambara., for these never build their comb in 
holes, and when they build in trees their comb is always hung 
under a branch.] 

(ii) stingless bee {Trigona sp.), poti Bl., perhaps akin to 
S. poetawd or Sk. pota, a young one (S. pilawa). 

A bee's nest is called mehi keiigama, "bee village" or "bee 
house," the nest of the bambara is sometimes called maha mehi 

18. Belly, bada K. (S. bada). 

ig. Betel, nilikola W. ; pangirikoia, pengirikola, W. K. O. U. 
D. Bl. L. R. T. (S. bulat). 

Nilikola, lit. "dark green" or "dark-coloured leaves," from 
S. kola, leaves, and nil, this word being commonly used in 
Sinhalese for all dark (not black) colours including the darker 
tints of blue (cf. Chap, xvi, p. 400). 

Pangirikoia from patigiri (S. paefigiri), acid, having zest, and 
kola. Fl. and Tl. pangirikoia. 

20. Big, apade kote K. ; kudaminete W. ; malia D. ; mamakeke Bl. ; 
metarati B. (S. mahd, loku). 

Apade kote from apade, vast, huge (M. aphdte), and kota, heap, 
mass (S. goda). 

Kudaminete from hida (Sk. khandd), a multitude, or Sk. ganda, 
mass (S. goda), and minete, measuring or measurement (S. minita). 

Malia from ma, big (S. md, maha), and alia, elephant (S. aliyd). 
Cf. S. maha ali (adj.), very large. 

Mamakeke from tnama, very big, and akeke, one. 

Metarati, a contraction of mevitaraeii, from S. me, this, vitqr, 
size, and aeti, will be. 

21. Bird, cappi D. Bl. ; kurula T. ; sakeleo O.; .ya///, sappia, sappeo, 
N. W. G. K. L. R. (S. kurulld). 

(i) Hawk, <rrt/i/ D. ; mail G. ; velina N. W. O. (S. ukussd). 

Mail; Mr Parker suggests that this word may perhaps be 
derived from T. mayilei, grey or ash colour. 

Velina, lit. " the crooked-nosed one " from S. well, crooked, and 
na, nose ; cf. Sk. vakrandsika, owl, from vakra, crooked. 

(ii) Owl, bakumuna, bakuna G.; kahituang kaneka O. ; velina 
N. (S. bakamuna). 


Bakumuna, lit. " one having a large face," from S. baka, large, 
mund, having a face. 

Kakutuang kaneka, lit. " he who eats lizards," from P. kakan- 
taka, lizard, fig being the ending of the accusative plural. 

Velina, cf. Hawk, supra. 

22. Bite {v.), dotkecamando kerenya D. from dot, teeth (S. dat), keca 
(S. kaetiya), knife or blade, mando, with middle, and kerenya, 
to do ; the expression would literally mean " to make (it) come 
between the teeth " (S. ivikanawa, hapanawa). 

23. Black, kaluipoja D. (S. kalu), v. p. 391. 

24. Blacksmith, talabacanaca Bl., lit. one who hammers and 
welds, from tala, having hammered, or who beals (S. tala), 
and bacana, which may be connected with Sk. and P. pacha, 
to cook, melt (S. achdriya). 

25. Blood, lepoja D. Bl. from S. k, blood, and poja, v. p. 391 
(S. le, older form /^y^^). 

26. Body, angapoja K. ; ^^?^(? Bl. ; kanda Tk. (S. aeilga, kanda, 
Sk. sartlraya). 

Angapoja from S. a^;?^a and/^y'a, 7^ p. 391. 
Enge from aenga. 

27. Bone, a<ra O. ; atepoja K. D. (S. a^/d;). 

28. Bow, rt'i^/z^a R. ; ^2^;^//^ B. K. ; ikele W. ; malaliya D. Bl. L. ; 
fnandaiiya Tk. (S. dunna). 

Donda from Sk. and P. kodanda, bow, or from S. danda ; 
cf No. 4. 

Dunne from S. dunna. 

Malaliya from S. wa/a, a bow, and ///a, a stick, rod. 

29. Bowstring, dundia B. ; puriya Tk. (S. dunudiya). 

Dundia from S. dunna, bow, and ^//ya, string. Sk. /_)'«, bow- 

Puriya, lit. that by which a bow is drawn from, S. purana, to 
draw a bow (Sk. Jpur). 

30. Break, (?'.) patagacena Bl. /^a/a (Sk. jr//;///, P. phuta, break) 
means lit. to cause a sound ; gacenawd (S. gassanawd), to cause to 
strike (S. kadanawa). 

31. Breast, bopatte, bopota, B. K. ; /a^,?<:a Bl. ; tanepoja D. ; /a^y^ 
O. (S. laepaetta, lay a, tane). 


Bopatte from bo {M.pd(a), heart, a.ndj>atte {M, pattia), surface, 
exterior part. 

Lageca from S. la^ breast, and geca, which appears to be cor- 
rupted from S. paette, side. 

Tanepoja, ianve, appHed at Bulugahaladena to the female 
breast, is derived from S. tane zxxd poja, v. p. 391. 

32. Bring {v.), atwkalagena mangacena D. ; enawarin B. ; humbeta 
mangacenawa Bl. ; ucagena K. (S. genefiawd). 

Anokalagena mangacena, ht. to come, having taken things, from 
(S.) anoka/a, things, ^^«a, having taken, and mangacena, to come. 

Enawarm, Ut. "come having taken." Ena from gena, v. supra, 
and warin from S. wareti, come. 

Huitibeta mangacenawa from humbeta, to this place, here 
(S. mobata), and mangacenawa, to come. 

Ucagena from uca, S. ussd, having lifted, and gena, to bring. 

33. Buffalo, amberawasa L. ; madaya U. ; many a G. L. ; miwa 
N. O. ; okma N.; tanikura T . \ wadena Bl. ; walmanya K. 
(S. niimd). 

Amberawasa, lit. horn-bearing calf or bull, from am, S. an, 
horn (Sk. sringa, P. singa), bera, S. ^ara, bearing (Sk. and P. bhara), 
and z^aj-a, S. 7^aw^ (Sk. z^rt/^a, P. vaccha), calf, bull. JFaj-a may 
also be derived from H. bhaisd, buffalo. Fl. ambaruwa, buffalo. 

Madaya is the low-country Sinhalese for a young lusty bull, 
Sk. madagama, buffalo. 

Manya appears to be a corruption of madaya. 

Mhva, Sk. mahisha, P. mahisa. 

Okma, Sk. ukshaw, ox, bull. 

Walmanya ; wal, wild, and manya, a corruption of madaya, 
V. supra. 

34. Build {v.), mandokerenavd Bl., lit. to make a hut, from mando, 
hut, small shed (S. mandu), and karanawd, to do, to make 
(S. hadanawd, tavanawd). 

35. Burn (z'.), pucakadal D. from S. /?<rfra, pulussa, burning, and dal, 
flame, blaze (S. davanawd, puccanatva). 

36. Bury (7/.), bhnpoja patagacala D. ; meiedaman L. ; paiga dama- 
pumu B. (S. wa(alafiawd). 

Bmipoja patagacala is derived from bimpodga, earth, ground, 
and patagacala, digging. 


Metedamati, cf. M. mdti dene, to bury a corpse. This word 
may be explained as mete, earth (S. maeti), and daman, to put 
(S. damanawd), i.e. to put earth over a corpse. In Sinhalese maeti- 
danianawd is not used in the sense of to bury. 

Palga da7napunm from paiga, dead body (H. and Sk. preia), 
and darnapiimu, throwing away. 

37. Butterfly, camaicapi D. from S. samanalayd, and cappi, bird 
(S. samanalayd). 

38. Buy {v.), hingalaging e?iokala ganewa Bl, ; ridiporu enokolala 
maieketa D. (S. mileta, or sallivalata, gannawa). 

Hinga/aging enokala ganezm, lit. " to take enokala from the 
Sinhalese." Hingalaging is derived from sinhalaydgen, hingala 
being commonly substituted for sifihala by the peasant Sinhalese 
of the Vedirata, and ganewa (S. gannawa) means " to take." 

Enokala is probably connected with the M. word itakila, 
valuables, trifles, small articles. 

[This expression was generally stated to mean both "to buy" 
and " to sell" and this is doubtless correct, for so far as the Veddas 
were concerned both operations were but aspects of bartering with 
Sinhalese traders.] 

Ridiporu enokolala maieketa. Mr Parker considers this ex- 
pression means "having given silver coins for my thing"; maieketa 
appears to be compounded of mage (often pronounced mayi) and 
ekata, "for my one." 

39. Cave, galge B.; galkabala B. (S. galge, galguhawa). 

Galkabala from S. gal, stone, and kabala (M. khabadada), 
cave, den. 

40. Centipede, rateya N., lit. the red one (S. rat, Sk. rakta, P. ratta, 
red). In S. too, rattaya is used to signify centipede (S. pattayd). 

41. Charcoal, delepoja D. (S. ailguru, doeli) from S. daeli, burnt, 
black, charcoal, and/^'a, v. p. 391. 

42. Child, hineto D.; kakula Bl.; ladwuwa K.; petiTV. (S. lamaya, 

Hineto from S. /««, little, and eto, one who is (S. aeti, Sk. 
rtj-/"/, is to be). 

Kakula from S. kaekula, flower bud. 

Ladwuwa from S. /<?, tender (Sk. ^a/<?), and duruwa (S, daruvd), 

i't?/'/, cf. S. /a^//, child, and Sk. pota, the young of any animal. 


43. Chin, hota W. ; tale O. (S. nikata), 

Hota, V. No. 133. 

Tale, cf. Sk. and P. talu, palate. 

44. Claw, kiirapoja D. ; sapige kakul K. (S. niya, niyapotta). 

Kurapoja from S. kura, hoof, foot, and poja, v. p. 391. 
Sapige kakul from S. kakul, feet, and sapige, of a bird {v. p. 394). 

45. Cloth, konam Bl. L. ; konani poja R. ; pilala "W. ; watre O. 

(S. ////, redda, vata). 

Konam, T. kovaiiam, Sk. kanpina, a strip of cloth worn over 
the pudenda. 

Kofiam poja, v. supra and p. 391. 

Pilala, cf. Sk. and P. /a/a, /a//, cloth. 

Watre, cf. Sk. vastra, P. vattha, cloth. 

46. Cloud, z£/fl/a K., cf. Sk. and P. valdhaka, cloud (S. walatva, 

47. Coconut, kasapengediya Tk. ; gaigedi W. U.; kirigedi, kirigedji, 
kirigedja O. D. Bl. ; watigedia L-. (S. /^/) 

Kasapengediya from /^^^-a (Sk. kausika), incased, /^«, water 
(S. /ad«, Sk. and V.pdniya), and gediya, fruit. This word is also 
used by the Kandyan Sinhalese. Cf. Sk. kansikaphala, coconut 

Kirigedi from S. kiri, milk, milky juice, and gedgi (S. gediya), 

Wangedia, ht. fruit with water, from wan (Sk. P. and S. vana), 
water, and gediya, fruit, cf. Sk. jalaphala {jala, water, and phala, 
fruit), coconut. 

48. Coconut-milk, rangkiri daluo W., lit. "golden milk juice," 
rang (S. ran), golden, being used by Veddas as "excellent"; 
daluo probably means white juice from S. dala (P. and Sk. 
dhavala), white, and uda (Sk. udaha), water, these words are 
combined to give daloda, whence daluo. 

49. Cold, angocadamal D. from anga (Sk. and P.), body, cada, cold, 
and mal a corruption of S. kal, time, or S. mekal, rainy season 
(S. sisil). 

50. Come (z/.), anokala ganyayi D. ;